The entertainment industry and its involvement in activism – specifically with human rights – was a central theme at the Blackout Black Friday event held at the Cinefamily Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood.
Blackout for Human Rights partnered with Ava DuVernay’s Array, Macro Ventures, Color of Change and Black Lives Matter to host the third annual event, which held special screenings of Netflix’s “13TH” and “I Am Not Your Negro” followed by a panel discussion on art and activism. The event was free to the public.
“This is a great occasion. I see a lot of great support and work for one another; it’s very aspirational and inspirational.” Don Cheadle said.
Cheadle was in attendance along with Michael Ealy, Jesse Williams and more activists within the industry.
“James Baldwin [is] one of our great American heroes, not black American but American,” Cheadle added before he mentioned Baldwin’s work to be “incredibly insightful and when we think about what’s happening today, some may even say prescient.”
While recent documentaries reigned supreme during the event, Hollywood’s scripted content was criticized for its inaccuracies and lack of accountability when it comes to researching America and its relationship with African-Americans.
“The same research that they want to get from an astrophysicist for a story, they need to do the same thing when it comes to talking about our communities and issues and holding a mirror to that authenticity that they say that they have as creators,” said Brian Walker of Color of Change. Walker stated that his organization has lent itself to assist writer’s rooms by providing this sort of research in hopes of better storytelling.
The panel also revisited the history of the Civil Rights Movement and its benefit from having entertainers including, but not limited to Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Marlon Brando. It was concluded that the industry and the Movement had always gone “hand in hand” as leaders of the community used the power of entertainment to speak to the masses.
The Blackout Black Friday event was specifically held the day after Thanksgiving as a nationwide call to action to not participate in one of the most popular shopping days of the year, and instead organize community events to shed light on those who have suffered from race-based or class-based hatred.