Documentaries like I Am Not Your Negro, Whose Streets?, and Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am are essential pieces of education, especially during times of widespread social unrest. As such, per Variety, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, O Cinema, and Magnolia Pictures have worked together to make these wonderful cinematic examinations free to watch.
I Am Not Your Negro, from director Raoul Peck, examines the life of iconic writer James Baldwin through his unfinished manuscript Remember This House, about the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Whose Streets?, from directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, follows the 2014 uprising that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri after the police killing of Michael Brown. And Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, from director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, examines the life of iconic writer Toni Morrison (Beloved, Song of Solomon) in her own words.
The release of these incredible films for free comes in the wake of the racist killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery by the police. The films’ release is an effort by all organizations involved to continue efforts of visibility and education, so that our reckoning and education can truly look at the center of systemic racism. Alberto Ibarguen, president of Knight Foundation, said this:
Informed, equitable, inclusive and participatory communities are as essential to a strong democracy as an informed citizenry. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis is a terrible affront to that ideal – and this weekend is a reminder of how tough it will be to rise to the moment. But our democracy depends on our willingness to try.
O Cinema co-founders Kareem Tabsch and Vivian Marthell also said this:
We believe films have the power to educate, entertain and inspire — they can change communities and can change lives. As artists and arts organizations we have the responsibility to speak out against injustice and oppression. These three remarkable films speak directly to issues that have plagued our country for far too long. We hope they can spark real dialogue and a plan of action to address inequities.
I Am Not Your Negro will be available on June 7, Whose Streets? will be available on June 14, and Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am will be available on June 21. Each title will have a 24-hour window to free rent and watch the film, and each free rental will be followed up with a Monday evening virtual discussion led by community members. This service will be available in the following cities: Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota. Eventually there will be more information regarding how to register for these free rentals and which webpage to visit, and we will update this article once we learn.