Two weeks after seeing the powerful Detroit, I sat in the theater for the equally compelling Whose Streets from Magnolia Pictures. Serving as an eye-opening account of what the media didn't show after the Mike Brown murder, Whose Streets doesn't hold back in showcasing the emotional plight the city experienced. Told in five strong chapters, the documentary from first-time directors Damon Davis & Sabaah Folayan is a must-see. Just as last year's I Am Not Your Negro & The 13th were.
As the film opens up, we are given a quote from the infamous Dred Scott case of 1857 which happened in Missouri. In short, Dred Scott was a slave, who had been taken by his owners to Free states and territories, He attempted to sue for his freedom, but the request was denied. After this quote, we see two black men taking a ride through Ferguson in 2014 before the Michael Brown incident, discussing how in 2014, things still haven't changed.
Thankfully the directors chose not to retell what happened between Mike Brown & Darren Wilson on August 9th, 2014, as every story has three sides to it. Still, in this case, only one person is here to tell their version. I want to point out that Whose Streets doesn't follow a traditional narrative. Instead, it focuses on those who live in Ferguson, such as a nursing student and young mother Brittany Farrell & her wife Alexis Templeton, who formed Millennial Activists.
In watching the documentary, we get a chance to hear from activists such as David Whitt, a recruiter for the Cop Watch. As well as Maureen Russell and rapper Tef Poe who formed the Hands up United Movement. Throughout the documentary, we are shown why movements such as Black Lives Matter are needed. Davis & Folayan use the film to quote various powerful speakers ranging from Langston Hughes to Sojourner Truth. There are also two particularly intense scenes involving black women, one a resident and a cop. While I won't reveal the scenes' context, I will say they show where we are regarding race relations in 2017.
While I understand that the documentary was made to give Ferguson a voice, it would have been nice to hear from Ferguson's police. Ferguson's police are seen as quiet throughout most of the film, and I wanted to understand why their point of view. Given the almost guerilla-style the documentary presents, I'm sure there are hours of unseen footage, which hopefully make it to the DVD. Many will write Whose Streets off without conducting the proper research or even giving it a chance.
Fred Hampton once said, "We're gonna have to do more than talk. We're gonna have to do more than listen. We're gonna have to do more than learn. We're gonna have to start practicing and that's very hard. We're gonna have to start getting out there with the people and that's difficult. Sometimes we think we're better than the people so it's gonna take a lot of hard work". The work of bringing this country together will be a battle for years and generations to come, but viewing of Whose Streets is a step in the right direction.
Final Grade A+