AALF-Seattle Premiers Award-Winning Documentary

November 10, 2014

AALF premiers award-winning documentary to inspire collective action to support education equity and excellence

–Kerry Cooley-Stroum


In its continuing mission to convene the community to address the most critical issues affecting the well-being of African Americans, the African American Leadership Forum (AALF-Seattle) premiered the Seattle screening of the award-winning documentary American Promise on November 19 in partnership with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. 


Nearly 300 parents and families, educators and administrators, community, faith-based and education leaders, coaches, elected officials and dozens of the University of Washington’s teacher ed program students arrived and filled every seat in the house.


The film’s Brooklyn, NY, filmmakers,middle-class African American parents, turned their cameras on their own son and his best friend as they made their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country.  Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation, this provocative documentary presented complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of reace, class and opportunity.


According to AALF Executive Board Member, Dawn Bennett,  “We knew Seattle had to see and discuss this important documentary.  We (AALF-Seattle) partnered with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, along with the Multicultural Education Rights Alliance, Centerstone and the Children’s Alliance to provide the Seattle premiere free to the community.  Our goal was to share community dialogue, learn from one another and inspire attendees to move forward purposefully to fight to end the opportunity and achievement gaps impacting our African American children.”


The local education leader panelists conversed with attendees about the challenges to success faced by Black students and their families and how we can and must strive for equity and education excellence for our children.

Honored guest panelists included:

  • Panel Facilitator, Dr. Donald Felder, teacher, education activist and long-time Interagency High School leader and mentor
  • Dr. Geneva Gay, University of Washington Professor, Multicultural Education
  • Trish Millines Dziko, TAF Academy E.D., co-founder
  • Emijah Smith, African American Leadership Board Member, Children’s Alliance Community Organizer
  • Tilman Smith, early education teacher, anti-racist activist, Childcare Resources coach manager


Following the event, Ms. Bennett commented,

“American Promise provided our community an opportunity to consider how race, culture and class impact the delivery of equitable, quality education to our children. It is our goal, in partnership with the greater community, to advocate for culturally and socially responsive educators and leadership, and the educational opportunities every student deserves to reach his or her potential.”  

More on American Promise:

An outstanding, honest portrayal of the complexities involved in steering black boys to success where cultural barriers and environmental obstacles still remain.  —Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

“All American families want to give their children the opportunity to succeed. But the truth is, opportunity is just the first step, particularly for families raising black boys. We hope American Promise shines a light on these issues.” – Michèle Stephenson; Co-Producer, Co-Director


“Our goal is to empower boys, their parents, and educators to pursue educational opportunities, especially to help close the black male achievement gap.” – Joe Brewster; Co-Producer, Co-Director


American Promise premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, won the Grand Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking, has received numerous excellent reviews, and is playing at film festivals around the world.