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Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights    cover photo

Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights 2013

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Women Make Movies, 115 W. 29th Street, Suite 1200,New York, NY, 10001; 212-925-0606
Produced by Nevline Nnaji
Directed by Nevline Nnaji
DVD , color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Women’s Rights, African American History, Civil Rights, Social Justice, Feminism

Date Entered: 07/30/2015

Reviewed by Timothy W. Kneeland, History and Political Science Department, Nazareth College of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Teaching the history of Civil Rights or Second Wave Feminism? Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights is the perfect resource for any classroom setting. The documentary by Nevilne Nnaji takes the viewer through the struggle by black women in the 1960s and 1970s via recollections of key participants in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panther Party, National Black Feminist Organization, and the Third World Women’s Alliance. Between these brief and well-edited commentaries by participants are carefully selected archival film clips of that time period, 1965-1977. Nnaji breaks the film into three roughly chronological segments of about 25 minutes each, covering the role of black women in the African American civil rights movement, the role of black women in the Women’s rights movement, and the attempt to ally all women of color into a broader and more international women’s movement in the 1970s.

The documentary is well-edited, briskly paced, and features a who’s who of participants in the Movement such as Frances Beale, Rosemari Mealy, Judy Richardson, Gwendolyn Simmons, Deborah Singletary, and Eugenia Wiltshire. Archival film footage brings in the comments of Shirley Chisholm, Maxine Waters, Coretta Scott King, and Helen Reddy. It might be best if shown in three class sessions to allow for discussion and unpacking of the key issues raised in the movement.