Ava DuVernay's New Movie Will Premiere in an OWN Special Hosted by Oprah

Elena Nicolaou
·4 mins read
Photo credit: OWN
Photo credit: OWN

From Oprah Magazine

The day the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833. The day 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched by white men in Mississippi in 1955. The day Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. The day the first Motown song played on the radio in 1961. The day Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005. The day Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination during the 2008 presidential election.

Each of these historically significant events occurred over the years on August 28—and each is rendered in DuVernay's new movie, August 28: A Day in the Life of a People. "The idea that all of these things that have so affected Black culture all happened on this peculiar little day became very exciting to me,” DuVernay says.

The movie originally premiered in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and was only available to view at the Washington, D.C. museum's Oprah Winfrey Theatre. That's changing today, thanks to a new OWN special.

On August 28, 2020, the star-studded film will premiere in an OWN special hosted by Oprah. OWN Spotlight: Culture Connection and August 28 will air on OWN throughout the day, with showings at 1, 4, and 6 p.m. ET/PT. Cord-cutters can watch, too: The special will stream for free on the Watch OWN app and the OWN Facebook and Youtube pages, beginning at 2 p.m.

Separated into six poetic segments, the movie stars Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Regina King, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Andre Holland, Michael Ealy and Glynn Turman.

Instead of dialogue DuVernay wrote, the actors speak the words of Black luminaries like Nora Zeale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou. “What can I write that is ever going to be worthy of going over these great moments in history?” DuVernay asks.

Photo credit: OWN
Photo credit: OWN

In addition to premiering the movie, Oprah also sits down with DuVernay and Rev. Al Sharpton for big-picture discussions about 2020, a year that has been marked by painful—and necessary—conversations and protests about racial injustice in the U.S.

"As we look back on summer and spring of 2020, it all feels like an August 28. It all feels like an impactful moment that's happening in our culture," Oprah says in the special.

The upcoming presidential election looms throughout the hour-long special. DuVernay stresses the importance of registering to vote—and then actually voting, whether at the polls or through mail-in ballots.

“As we are marching toward a historic day with this election, we have the power to affect the outcome. It’s not as if history will happen to us. It’s something we can shape and craft, and bend toward our will," DuVernay says.

For audience members who wish to be involved now, Sharpton points to the upcoming March on Washington, held—you guessed it—on August 28, 2020. Sharpton announced plans for the March during his eulogy at George Floyd's funeral in June.

"We had not planned to announce, but when I was in the middle of the eulogy and knew that everyone was watching...I felt that that was the moment to put out there: We need to go back to Washington, in many ways for the same reasons they went 57 years ago. It was the moment to say 'Something must be done,'" Sharpton says.

The March on Washington will be held in D.C. this weekend, with precautions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Those wary of travel during the pandemic can participate in the virtual march online, which Oprah and DuVernay will attend. "We're not looking for numbers. We're looking for impact," Sharpton says.

Sharpton revealed that families of recent victims of police violence, like Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, will attend the ceremony. "Think of those families standing in the shadows of Abe Lincoln, where Dr. King and John Lewis stood—that sends the message of, 'We still have unfinished work to do in this country," Sharpton says.

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