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Success despite the odds



Freedom Williams from For Our Sons
  • Freedom Williams from "For Our Sons"

Indiana Black Expo kicked off a couple of days ago. As part of the festivities, five films were shown at The Toby Theatre at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (4000 N. Michigan Road) this weekend. I caught two of them — “For Our Sons” and “Ten9Eight.” Both were fantastic. Granted, I’m a documentary whore, but they were still excellent.

"For Our Sons" interviewed prominent African-American businessmen, including Freedom Williams, the emcee from ‘90s dance group C+C Music Factory, and defense attorney Anthony Ricco. The men discussed their eventual successes in life despite growing up in poverty-stricken areas rife with drugs and violence, often without fathers. I bristled when one interviewee decried matriarchal leadership, a scene addressed afterwards by a woman who said single women shouldn’t be blamed since they’ve been abandoned by their men. Immediately, a young man jumped up and hotly blamed mothers and rattled off some abortion statistics. (Abortion was never discussed in the film.) A murmur went through the crowd and a scene from "The Color Purple" went through my head: Two women begin having an argument one night at the jook joint and a man who has jauntily been playing music all evening very smartly closes his piano and says, “Whoops, gotta go!” I won’t lie — I eyed the door.

Jasmine Lawrence, an entrepreneur from the film Ten9Eight
  • Jasmine Lawrence, an entrepreneur from the film "Ten9Eight"

“Ten9Eight” followed a group of high school students who competed in a nationwide young entrepreneur competition. Students had to come up with business plans and present them in front of high-level CEOs who asked hard questions that sometimes left the competitors stumped. Out of 24,000 entries, one student was awarded a $10,000 prize. I won’t tell you who won since I obviously want you to see the movie, but I can say the person I was rooting for came in second. The film was so inspirational that I teared up a number of times. It was heartwarming without being saccharine.

In the future, Black Expo hopes to expand its series beyond a two-day run. I’ll definitely be back next year — for as many days as they offer films. I’ll also sit in the back again… just in case.


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