New Documentary Will Tell the History of HBCUs


HBCU alums, students, a faculty, it’s time to share your stories! Stanley Nelson, the man behind the critically acclaimed documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, is working on a new project geared toward Historically Black institutions.

The film, and accompanying multimedia project, is titled Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It aims to take a look at the history of HBCUs in America and their impact on society.

Here’s how describes the film:

The telling of this story is long overdue. HBCUs have been at the margins of the American collective conscience despite their role in shaping Black life, dismantling desegregation and birthing and growing the Black middle class. Tell Them We Are Rising’s compelling narrative and original footage will show Americans that, HBCUs have touched all Americans—regardless of race. HBCUs deserve respect, support and a prominent place in our historical and contemporary understanding of higher education.

This project comes at the right time. HBCUs are at a crossroads. Many are in financial stress and face possible closure. Many Americans question their relevance in a post-segregated nation. Tell Them We Are Rising will provide a national forum to explore and discuss a path forward for the nation’s 100-plus HBCUs.

Tell Them We Are Rising is a story for everyone. The film and supporting multimedia platform will expertly connect snapshots from a long and rich history to contemporary understandings of HBCUs. It will inspire debate, conversation, pride and memories that are necessary to understand the past and chart the future of HBCUs.

Nelson is currently touring several HBCU campuses and interviewing students and alums during homecoming, and the filmmaker is excited to finally tell the story of these inspiring institutions.

“We’re honored to produce the first film on the history of HBCUs, but we are equally excited to use technology to collaborate with audiences because the story of HBCUs far surpasses what can be told in one documentary,” Nelson said. “It’s the personal stories of innumerable lives transformed by these institutions over hundreds of years at the forefront of this narrative, and this is our effort to leave no story behind.”

To complete the project Nelson wants HBCU students, faculty, and grads to share their stories.

Tell Them We Are Rising will air on PBS in 2017. Want to contribute your story? Visit the HBCUrising site to share.