Film Upholds the Legacy of Jordan Davis

On Nov. 23, 2012, a group of four teenage boys made a stop at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. The driver of the car hopped out to pick up some gum and cigarettes from the station’s convenience store, while the rest of the group remained in the parked car. Music blared from their vehicle, but the driver would soon return. Moments later, another car entered the very same parking lot and pulled up adjacent to the SUV full of teens. The driver of the nearby car asked the boys to turn down their music. An argument ensued. Three and a half minutes later, only three of the four boys would leave the gas station with their lives.

This is the story of Jordan Davis’s death.

And tonight, on the three-year anniversary of that deadly encounter, HBO will air 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets. Directed by Marc Silver, the documentary recounts the bludgeoning details of 17-year-old Davis’s homicide and the trial of his assailant, Michael Dunn—a middle-aged White man with a license to carry concealed arms.

This story follows a repulsively familiar narrative in America: an unarmed Black person being killed by someone White with a weapon.

Jelani Cobb is a professor at the University of Connecticut and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Cobb recently moderated the film’s New York City screening at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In a subsequent conversation with, he describes the social and political milieu of Jordan Davis’s shooting.

“[Jordan Davis’s homicide is] one of the many flashpoints that occurred around race and the Obama presidency,” says Cobb. The shooting transpired after the murder of Trayvon Martin but before the murder of Michael Brown and the onslaught on unarmed Black men and women to follow. Cobb also says the case explored an extension of the same questions that arose in the Trayvon Martin case, particularly as it pertains to the opaque Stand Your Ground laws. 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets also recounts a bit of American history.

Read the rest at EBONY, and catch the movie when it airs on HBO Monday, Nov. 23 at 9 P.M. EST.