THE LESSON



ABOUT THE FILM

THE BACKSTORY

 

An old man picks up his grandson from school. The boy reads an excerpt from his U.S. History book. That’s when the grandfather decides to open up about his family’s personal and painful history and what it means to be black in America. 

I see things every day that remind me. I can’t disremember. They say history repeats itself, son, but we never came clean with our history.

“The Lesson” is a composite narrative inspired by over 2,300 interviews of former slaves, transcribed by the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s. Based on these chilling accounts and current interviews in places like Clarksdale, Mississippi and Oakland, California, "The Lesson" came to life. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released a report recently titled Teaching Hard History: American Slavery. Its findings reveal that educators are not sufficiently prepared to teach the history of American slavery. Textbooks don’t have enough material about it. And among 12th-graders, only 8 percent could identify slavery as the cause of the Civil War. Fewer than one-third correctly named the 13th Amendment as the formal end of U.S. slavery. And fewer than half identified the “Middle Passage” as the transport of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to North America. Download the report.

 

BEHIND THE SCENES