Afro-American, African, Women, Labor, and Latin America Film Series

Sundays,  2pm

Loyola University (downtown)

Corboy Law Center, room 422,   25 E. Pearson Street, Chicago

January 12     Negroes with Guns: Robert Williams and Black Power (2004)

Williams was a NAACP leader in the late 50s –early 60s South who advocated Blacks arm themselves for self-defense as a practical matter of survival against the Klan-dominated establishment of his hometown of Monroe, North Carolina. In this he predated Malcolm X, and this contrasted him sharply with the strategy of Martin Luther King. He drew international attention to the harsh realities of life in the Jim Crow South. All the while, Williams and other protestors met the constant threat of violence and death with their guns close at hand. The FBI attempted to frame-up Williams, forcing him into an eight-year exile in Cuba and Mao Tse-Tung’s China.  While in Cuba he began “Radio Free Dixie” a radio show gave news of the black freedom movement and urged blacks not to fight in Vietnam. He became a model for the Black Panthers.

January 19       At the River I Stand: The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and the Assassination of Martin Luther King (1993)

Memphis in the spring 1968 was marked strike by Black sanitation workers, which  brought  in Martin Luther King , where he was killed. King at the time was speaking out against the Vietnam war and  invasions of other countries.  He was calling for a national Poor Peoples movement to demand the US government stop funding wars and serving corporate interests and start funding peoples’ needs and eliminate poverty. It was at Memphis King gave his “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech where he predicted US rulers’ plan to assassinate him.
In Memphis,  local civil rights leaders and the Black community soon realized the strike was part of the struggle for economic justice for all African Americans. The community mobilizing behind the strikers, organizing mass demonstrations and  boycotts of downtown businesses. The national leadership of AFSCME put the international union’s resources behind the strike.

January  26         The hidden Martin Luther King:  1967-1968

Excerpts of speeches and interviews with King in the last year of his life, the Martin Luther King the US rulers want to keep buried. He speaks of opposing the war in Vietnam, organizing a multi-racial poor people’s movement, demanded the US government stop its militarism and reorient its budget to meeting peoples’ needs, supported Third World liberation movements, and said the ruling US white power structure was an obstacle to human progress.  Included are TV interviews with King, which reflect the increasing hostility by liberals towards the direction King was moving at the end of his life, leading to his US government involved murder.

Feb.  2            All Power to the People: The Black Panther Party and Beyond  (1996)

Opening with a montage of four hundred years of white injustice in America, this documentary provides the historical context for the establishment of the 60’s Black rights movement. Clips of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Mumia Abu Jamal and other activists. The Black Panthers, organized by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, embodied every major element of the Black rights movement which preceded it and inspired the Black, Latino, Native American and Women’s movements which followed.
Interviews with former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, CIA officer Philip Agee, and FBI agents Wes Swearingen and Bill Turner  detail a “secret domestic war” of assassination, imprisonment and torture as the weapons of repression against the Black Panthers and others.  It explains methods used by the US government’s  political police, FBI and CIA, to divide and destroy the key figures in the Black Panthers. This has served as a model of how the US political police continues using these methods against us today. The film covers Reagan era events, privacy threats from new technologies, and the political purpose of the War Against Drugs.

February 9           Maurice Bishop and The Grenada Revolution (1983)

The revolutionary Black government of Maurice Bishop in Grenada (1979-1983) served the interests of workers and farmers, and was the first Black English-speaking revolution in the Americas. Bishop was an outspoken advocate of Black power and national liberation struggles. His New Jewel Movement government improved living conditions for farmers, brought unionization for 90% of Grenadian workers, built national women’s, youth, farmers organizations as well as building community and worker councils. The US government considered this revolution in a country of 100,000 a national security threat, helped engineer its overthrow and then invaded the country.

February 16          Thomas Sankara: the Upright Man (2006)  &  Burkina Faso: Rectified Revolution (2011)

Thomas Sankara was a young anti-imperialist and nationalist leader whose government (1983-1987) undertook measures to combat neo-colonialism and build a united, independent Africa. He was an outspoken opponent of the Third World debt the West imposed on these countries, of Western support to South African apartheid, of the revolutions in Nicaragua and Cuba. Under his government were organized committees for the defense of the revolution, women’s and youth organizations, irrigation projects, school and road building, literacy drives, reforestation projects. Land was nationalizations and economic aid given to poor peasants. French and U.S. government interests conspired to have him murdered October 15, 1987.

February  23              Africa’s Black Star: Kwame Nkrumah (2011)    & Amilcar Cabral speaking about his betrayal at Nkrumah’s funeral (1972)

In 1957  Kwame Nkrumah became Ghana’s and Africa’s first independent president after colonial rule. From humble beginnings in a small village in West Ghana to poor parents, he displayed an insatiable appetite for learning and education. We follow his formative early 20’s and 30’s as he travels to the US and UK, and is influenced by characters such as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois and George Padmore. The film covers Nkrumah’s rise to power, Africa’s independence movement, and his advocacy of anti-colonial struggle, a United States of Africa, Panafricanism, an African corollary of Bolivar’s dream for a united Americas.  Nkrumah was overthrown by a Us-British instigated coup in 1966, and remains a great African hero.

March 2           Federation of Cuban Women: With Our Memory on the Future   (2006)

Charting the progress of women in Cuba, this film has two parts:  pre-revolutionary Cuba and  the early years of the Revolution, followed by present day women. Made to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) it looks at the “revolution within a Revolution,” showing the grassroots campaigns and initiatives that led to huge progress being made. Interwoven into this are clips of men talking on the streets, which shows some of the ‘machismo’ of old Cuba.                                                 In the second half people on the street are asked what they think of women’s position in Cuba today. Themes include divorce, sex before marriage, domestic duties, gender roles and responsibilities. The film examines all areas of life: workplace, legal system, education, health, and sports, all in the context of gender relations. The film is not afraid to show prejudiced and traditional views and clearly state that there is still much to be done but Cuba is most definitely on the right path.

March 9       Maria’s Story: A Documentary Portrait in El Salvador’s Civil War (1990)

This tells the story of Maria Serrano, an activist and mother engaged in the armed struggle of the period on the side of the FMLN (Faribundo Marti National Liberation front). Serrano, a campesino leader pushed into the revolution by government repression of the people, gives a very personal account of El Salvador’s fight for the rights of the poor. The US backed El Salvador government’s ruthless violence forced thousands of Salvadorians to join the FMLN fighters in hopes of a better life and an end to rule of a dozen families over the country. Maria and her children, who are with her in the forests to escape death squads, treat their lives not as a hero’s journey, but a measure of seeking freedom. As Serrano tells the story, El Salvador’s civil war is not about the government vs. socialist insurgents. It is about economically exploited people who have nothing fighting because they have no choice but to take up weapons to create change for the nation’s desperately hungry and destitute people.

March 30        With Babies and Banners –   Flint Sit Down Strike (1976)

The victory of the Great General Motors Sit-Down Strike in Flint, Michigan, in 1937 was the key to the success of the CIO’s drive for industrial unionism. With Babies And Banners presents the story of the women who became the backbone of the strike. The Women’s Emergency Brigade was a pro-union support group that acted as an auxiliary army to the UAW, battling the police, GM, strike opponents and anyone who stood in their way. These were very tough, very determined women.                                                                              Late 1936 workers at the GM factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the plants and occupied them for 44 days. Like Fight For $15 low wage workers today, they suffered slave wages, no vacation, no health care, no overtime, obey the boss or get the boot. One of the women in the film states, “Sometimes we’d work two hours, maybe be sent home. No sick benefits, there was no health & welfare programs, no social security, no unemployment, or anything like that. All of that has been built since we founded the UAW.”  The workers held their ground against the police and National Guard and finally broke the corporation and the UAW was recognized  as the representative of the workers. It was a monumental historical moment, as no other major company had ever been brought to its knees by their employees. But now, many years later, the corporate owners have regained all power and control of our country.

April 6             The Angola 3: Black  Panthers and the Last Slave  Plantation  (2008)

This film tells the gripping story of Robert King Wilkerson, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, men who together  endured over 100 year of solitary confinement, the longest of any  living prisoners in the United States. Politicized through contact with the Black Panther Party while inside Louisiana’s prisons, they formed one of the only prison Panther chapters in history and worked to organize other prisoners into a movement for the right to live like human beings. All three were frame-up, two released, Wallace just died, this documentary explores their extraordinary struggle for justice while incarcerated in Angola, a former slave plantation where institutionalized rape and murder made it known as one of the most brutal and racist prisons in the United States.

May 4     Labor’s turning point: the Minneapolis truck strikes of 1934 (1981)

Three successive strikes by Minneapolis truck drivers in 1934 resulted in the defeat of the ruling employer organization that had broken nearly every major strike there since 1916. The strikes established the industrial form of union organization through an AFL craft union and set the stage for organizing over-the-road drivers throughout an eleven-state area, transforming the Teamsters into a million-plus member union. The strikes in Minneapolis were notable for their  advance preparation, military tactics, and the degree to which they drew union, non-union, and unemployed workers alike into active participation in the struggle.
One  innovative strike tactic was the cruising picket squads patrolling the streets by automobile. A strike committee of one hundred was elected representing all struck firms. A women’s auxiliary was established, and the Organizer became the first daily ever by a striking union.       On May 21, a major battle between strikers and police and special deputies took place when six hundred pickets routed the police and deputies in hand-to-hand combat. Over thirty cops went to the hospital. No pickets were arrested.

May 11               Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steelworkers (1996)

This film shows the Black rights movement in the heavily segregated steel industry and its equally segregated union, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA). Interviews with Black steelworkers make up the major part of the documentary. Many of the workers remember years, decades, of humiliation during their years in the mills.”See, they had two jobs down there: white jobs and black jobs,” says one who spent 39 years at the Point. “All the dirty jobs,” he says. “Unload cars with shovels. Plain, hard labor. The worst jobs, the dirtiest jobs, the nastiest jobs, you name it. In other words, they were Black jobs.” Their stories of being denied promotions, of training some white worker “and then a week later, he your boss,” – their memories are so strong that several of the workers break down while describing their experiences. There is a marvelous tone among these black steelworkers: anger, humor, the camaraderie of shared bad experiences, courage and eventually some satisfaction.

May  18             Speeches of Malcolm X (1997)

To celebrate the May 19 birthday of Malcolm X, we show the film Speeches of Malcolm X (1997) as well as a selection of Malcolm’s speeches starting from his times in the Nation of Islam where he saw the problem as white people. He evolved politically in the same direction as Martin Luther King, seeing the problem we face as the white power structure of US capitalist society. The speeches are excerpts of those from around 1962 until his murder by the US government on February 21, 1965.

May  25             Moments with Fidel (2004)

Since revolutionary Cuban forces toppled the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship on January 1, 1959,  Fidel Castro embodied the Cuban Revolution. This original documentary from the Cuban Film Archive uses rarely seen, archival footage and audio from the toppling of Batista  to 2004, to create a collage of pivotal moments in the life Fidel and the revolution. The film includes his redefinition of Cuba’s role facing isolation and scarcity in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hear Fidel addressing millions in Havana about the Cuban people’s struggles for land reforms and increased sugarcane production, and against the threat of U.S. imperialist intervention.

 June 1              Viva Venezuela: Fighting for Socialism (2013)

This 2013 doc­u­ment­ary was filmed in the streets, bar­rios, uni­ver­sit­ies and work­places of Cara­cas dur­ing mobil­iza­tions for the 2012 pres­id­en­tial elec­tions. It gives a voice to the polit­ical act­iv­ists, stu­dents and work­ers who are work­ing to build a col­lect­ive, social­ist soci­ety through the Bolivarian Revolution. Due to his anti-imperialism and com­mit­ment to a social­ist path, Chavez earned the hatred of Venezuela’s elite and their masters in the US. Des­pite the  admir­a­tion and  love Chavez enjoyed from the masses, the Bolivarian revolu­tion was not about just one man, but  a revolu­tion being build from below by the con­scious organ­iz­a­tion of the Venezuelan work­ing class to trans­form soci­ety from one of neo­lib­eral exploit­a­tion, hun­ger, sick­ness and poverty for the major­ity to one towards col­lect­ive organ­iz­a­tion and production. Produced by the Revolutionary Communist Group of Britain.

 June 8              Aristide and the Endless Revolution  (2005)

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, immensely popular former president of Haiti (1990-91, 1994-96, 2001-04), was twice overthrown by US and French interests. The film exposes the economic alliances between the Haitian and U.S. elite, the armed criminals posing as freedom fighters and other factors that have consistently threatened Haiti’s struggle for democracy and national liberation.                                                                                              The film introduces renowned physician and anthropologist Paul Farmer, President Aristide himself, Danny Glover, Noam Chomsky, Roger Noriega (Assistant Secretary of State under George Bush), Congresswoman Maxine Waters, James Dobbins (director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at Rand and former U.S. Special Envoy in Haiti), John Shattuck (former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor) and many Haitian voices. It reveals the US-French deceit and political violence that brought the world’s first black republic to its knees.

Sponsors: Loyola University Department of Sociology, Loyola Latin America Studies Program, Loyola Film and Digital Media Program, Chicago Comm to Free the Cuban 5
For more information:, Stan Smith 773-322-3168


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