get these nets
- Jul 8, 2017
90 minutes long
William Greaves’ breakthrough documentary Still A Brother: Inside the Negro Middle Class.
Still A Brother presents a variety of perspectives on status and the concerns of the emerging African-American middle class at a time of intense racial, social, cultural, and political turmoil. Narrated by legendary civil rights activist, author, actor, poet, director, and playwright Ossie Davis, the film proved to be much more controversial and provocative than NET expected. While the network envisioned a documentary portrait of “good negroes” whose values and socio-economic aspirations mirrored those of middle-class white Americans, Greaves’ film presents a wide range of perspectives and questions the impact of these aspirations on the fight for equal rights and civil liberty in the 1960s.
Airing on April 29, 1968, less than three weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Still A Brother: Inside the Negro Middle Class is a probing and complex look at media coverage and representation, racial and economic disparity, and the various degrees of oppression faced by African-Americans in the United States.
The conflicts posed for the Negro middle class are articulated by such spokesmen as John H. Johnson, president of Johnson Publishing Co.; Robert Johnson, editor of Jet magazine; St. Clair Drake, Roosevelt University sociology department and author of "Black Metropolis"; Ralph Featherstone of SNCC; Julian Bond, Georgia legislator; Bayard Rustin, director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; Dr. Percy Julian, Chicago millionaire; and Dr. Nathan Wright, organizer of last summer's Newark Black Power Conference. The program offers a comprehensive view of daily and social life in the Negro middle class: its homes, jobs, vacation spots, beauty contests, and cotillions. It then delves into the Negro's "mental revolution," which is Africa-oriented and increasingly sympathetic with the militant solutions of radical leaders.
“We had difficulties once Still a Brother was finished because NET had not expected that kind of film. They had expected an Ebony magazine kind of film, but we brought them this documentary that talked about mental revolution and showed increasing militancy in the black experience. People are talking about black is beautiful, the African heritage, militancy, and championing Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael. So when NET executives saw the film they sort of blinked because they didn’t know whether or not they really wanted to put it into the system. They weren’t clear whether or not it would be acceptable. There was a great deal of anxiety because these executives were looking at their mortgages and didn’t know whether they would be tossed out of their jobs. They didn’t tell me that, but it was obvious that they were really under pressure. But I must say that they rose to the occasion, which speaks well of them, and of course the film eventually received an Emmy nomination and a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival.” -William Greaves