Year: 2016
Director: Ava DuVernay
Rating: 10

Review: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

An extremely important, moving, heartbreaking documentary that details how the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution set in motion a hundred and fifty years of efforts to criminalize people of color, leading to the war on drugs and the world’s largest (and for profit) prison population.

Ava DuVernay is a skilled filmmaker. She weaves brutal and hopeful imagery, gorgeous music, and articulate interviews that do a fantastic job educating the viewer about the history of the amendment and its ongoing brutal impact on people of color. Angela Davis is an inspirational human and I hung on every word she said. Hell, even Newt Gingrich throws in his two cents supporting the film’s message.

It pulls no punches taking down the powerful leaders (especially Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton) who have used the amendment to terrorize our citizens. I’ve seen it twice now and have learned so much I was never taught in school or by the media. For those on their journey of racial equity and anti-racism it’s pretty much a must-see.

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