In late 2016, African-American director Ava DuVernay released the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed film Selma with the Netflix documentary 13th. The film was nominated for ‘Best Documentary Feature’ at this year’s Academy Awards and was one of our favorite films last year. 13th not only questions the progress we’ve made in terms of racial equality in America, but argues with ease that we haven’t ended the racial caste system at all — we’ve just rebranded it.
The film guides us through history, beginning with the the American Civil War and walks us through the presidencies and policies of Nixon, Reagan, H.W. Bush and Clinton and how they all exploited the 13th Amendment. It offers us a bipartisan look at race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States, leading us to the ultimate question: with the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment of a black man in America being 33%, are we really the land of the free?
The heart behind this powerful and must-see doc challenges us to awaken fully to our past and present so we won’t continue to make the same mistakes, pushing viewers to become advocates through the way we build relationships, have conversations, live, love and vote.