HBCU Rising


 Film’s Multi-Platform Engagement Campaign, HBCU Rising, Features a Crowdsourced HBCU Digital Yearbook Archive and 10-City HBCU Tour

New York, NY– Stanley Nelson, the preeminent storyteller of the African-American experience and Firelight Films, the award-winning production company committed to making films about pivotal events, movements, and people in American history, today unveiled a new full-length trailer for the upcoming documentary Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities. The trailer provides a fast-paced, rousing overview of the complex history of how HBCUs, havens for Black intellectuals, artists and trailblazers, offered a path of promise toward the American dream, educated the architects of freedom movements throughout the decades and cultivated leaders in every field.

Written, directed and produced by Nelson and produced by Firelight Films, the 90-minute film will air nationally on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens on Monday, February 19, 2018, 9 pm – 10:30 pm ET (check local listings). The film will also be available for online viewing on PBS.org beginning February 20, 2018.

HBCU Rising is the multi-platform engagement campaign for the film designed to highlight aspects of the HBCU experience and to connect with the HBCU community and beyond. To extend the conversation and ensure that each of the more than 105 colleges and universities are represented, HBCU Rising is anchored around the HBCU Digital Yearbook. The Yearbook is an online platform for students, alumni and historians to archive their campus memories through personal memorabilia – photos, videos, newspaper clippings, awards, graduation diplomas and campus life activities. Photos and videos can be submitted to http://www.hbcurising.com/submissions/.

Another component of HBCU Rising is a 10-city HBCU campus tour in collaboration with public media stations. The tour begins November 14 at Dillard University in Baton Rouge, LA, in partnership with public media station WYES. The events will feature screenings of the film followed by panel discussions with Nelson about the important issues explored in the documentary which examines the impact the schools have had on American history, culture and national identity for more than 150 years.

HBCU tour schedule below (complete event details will be available closer to the event dates on HBCURising.com):


In addition to the Digital Yearbook and campus tour, TELL THEM WE ARE RISING VIP screenings will be held in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles.

National partnerships in support of the film include The Black College Fund, Color of Change, Akila Worksongs, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., United Negro College Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, the HBCU Green Fund, and MomsRising.

Major funding for the film, HBCU Rising and associated campus tours was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as part of the public media initiative, American Graduate.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities is directed, written and produced by Stanley Nelson, co-directed and co-produced by Marco Williams, written by Marcia Smith and produced by Cyndee Readdean and Stacey L. Holman, with executive

producers Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS and Lois Vossen, Independent Lens. Funding for the film is provided by the CPB, ITVS, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Ford Foundation.


About Firelight Media/Firelight Films

Firelight was founded in 2000 by Emmy-winning, National Humanities medalist, and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow documentarian Stanley Nelson and award-winning writer and philanthropy executive Marcia Smith as an independent production company dedicated to harnessing the power of story-driven media as a platform for education and action. Best known for producing high-quality powerful productions for PBS and creating dynamic community engagement campaigns to ensure their reach and impact, Firelight is committed to making films about pivotal events, movements, and people in American history. Firelight has won numerous awards and enjoyed great critical acclaim, with nine films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. Past titles include Freedom Riders, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till, A Place of Our Own, and Freedom Summer.

Firelight’s Documentary Lab is the largest program in the United States aimed specifically at developing the documentary projects and professional skills of emerging diverse documentary filmmakers.  In 2015, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded Firelight with the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, for their demonstrated creativity and impact in supporting the talents and careers of a diverse new generation of filmmakers.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities is the second in a three-part series called America Revisited that includes The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, which was the most watched Independent Lens program ever, and the forthcoming, The Slave Trade: Creating A New World.


About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn, and subscribe for email updates.


About Independent Lens

Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00pm. The acclaimed series, with Lois Vossen as executive producer, features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by ITVS, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more, visit pbs.org/independentlens Join the conversation: facebook.com/independentlens and on Twitter @independentLens.