They are leaders. Entertainers. Gurus. Politicians. Innovators. Game Changers. They’re minority faces that broke barriers in society and continue to represent a marginalized community well.
Thanks to Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Elvis Mitchell, these individuals’ stories have been documented and Blacklisted.
“Historically, “blacklist” denotes a group of people marginalized and denied work or social approval. In an effort to redefine the term, these portraits of 50 African-Americans reclaim the term “blacklist” to be affirming, influential and powerful.”
In a world full of minority images of reckless, reality-TV girlfriends and law-defying men, The Black List documentary is refreshing. Appearing in August 2008 on HBO, it captured real-life, heartfelt stories of perception, trials and ultimate success regarding the African-American experience for these individuals.
So, when I found out that my favorite documentary was now reflected in exhibition form, I was beyond elated. Washington, D.C.’s National Portrait Art Gallery’s display of the documentary speaks to me. The exhibit encompasses enlarged portraits and bios as well as recounts all three volumes on the big screen.
I visited the exhibit on the first day it opened. Since then, I literally try to make my way back at least once a week for inspiration. And I will continue to do so until it closes in April 2012.
What I love about this exhibit is that it offers another outlet to expose multi-racial greatness to the masses. I sit and observe the people who watch the films and view the portraits; they’re all ages, races and economic statuses who are clearly appreciative of the insight.
But what really keeps me coming back are the stories. What keeps me coming back are individuals candidly reflecting on their journeys, their heroes, and their struggles; all articulating experiences that can’t be fabricated. Their confidence exudes them and their legacies precede them.
It’s like sitting down with your mentors in your living room soaking up wisdom from each exchange. And you never want the conversation to end because even if they end up telling the same story over and over again, you always pick up something new from it.
Some of my favorite features from this eclectic group include Chris Rock, Keenen Ivory Wayons, Suzan-Lori Parks, Richard Parsons, Angela Davis, Laurence Fishborne, Maya Rudolph, Melvin Van Peebles, Patrick Robinson and Debra Lee.
I only hope that if my life reaches pioneer status, I will be as forthcoming with my story of achievement. Honestly, my goal in life is to be an example for young women who come after me. No matter their aspirations, I would like them to know that you can be God-fearing, driven, compassionate and beautiful on the road to success. Yes, you may have to overcome obstacles such as racial barriers, but excuses are never to be made and perseverance must never cease.
I’m striving for Blacklist Status.
Image retrieved from http://www.rachelmarks.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/blacklist_image.jpg.