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Finding the Gold Within

2014
Distributed by The Video Project, PO Box 411376, San Francisco, CA 94141-1376; 800-475-2638
Produced by Karina Epperlein
Directed by Karina Epperlein
DVD, color, 92 min.
High School - General Adult
Adolescents, African Americans, Mentoring, Racism, Stereotyping


Reviewed by Barbara J. Walter, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 7/1/2015

I believe that stories heal… wounded people will continue to wound others until they are healed. Jerry Kwame Williams, Finding the Gold Within

The odds are stacked against these young men from Akron, Ohio: most have grown up in poverty in single-parent households; most will be the first in their family ever to attend college, if they make it. But Brandyn, Darius, Imani, Shawntrail, Stacee and Tyler—members of Alchemy, Incorporated’s first core group of graduates-- are intent on beating those odds.

Alchemy, Incorporated is a remarkable in-school mentoring program for young Black males in Akron that utilizes myths and storytelling, drumming and journaling to equip young men with tools for succeeding in a society that fears, labels and expects little of them—as in you’ll likely end up an athlete, rapper or criminal. Alchemy comes alongside students in upper elementary grades, mentoring them through high school and into their first years in college, teaching them to think deeply, articulate and realize their goals, face down obstacles, be there for each other, and to give back to the community.

Director Karina Epperlein deftly crafts a searching portrait of each young man, with his victories, struggles and dreams. Interviews with Alchemy’s founder Dr. Kwame Scruggs, storyteller and co-facilitator Jerry Kwame Williams and others tell of the birth and growth of the Alchemy program. Bonus shorts add depth to Epperlein’s portraits of six young Black men striving to be the heroes of their own stories, and of the mentors who provide the safe space and sense of community these young men need to dig deep and find the gold hidden within themselves.

Finding the Gold Within is an extraordinary film, worthy of the widest possible audience as our country continues to grapple with racial injustice, particularly the persistent stereotyping and criminalizing of young Black men. Highly recommended for all library film collections. Chaptered. In English. Some brief profanity.

Awards

  • John Michaels Award, Big Muddy Film Festival