New Black Lives Matter Documentary Starring Jesse Williams to Explore the Power and Rise of the Movement

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Actor and activist Jesse Williams. Photo by C. Flanigan/Getty Images
Actor and activist Jesse Williams. Photo by C. Flanigan/Getty Images

In a new documentary titled “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement,” actor Jesse Williams hopes to shed light on the mistreatment of African-Americans while chronicling the movement born out of it.

According to The Huffington Post, the documentary will premiere May 26 on BET and follows the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, highlighting its role in effectively voicing the concerns of the Black community.

“Black Lives Matter is, in many ways, in its adolescence,” Williams told The Huffington Post. “It’s an ongoing movement, so we wanted to be sure that as we catalog its origin story and machination, we also wanted to be sure we do not treat it as a fixed, finite, closed circle. We want to look back without being conclusive. That was really important to us.”

Williams, who will star in and executive produce the film, also discussed the creation of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, which took the internet by storm and helped bring about real change, the news site reports.

Laurens Grant, producer of the latest Black Panther documentary, will direct the film. The documentary will feature interviews with BLM co-founders Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors. Other notable activists and leaders of the movement such as DeRay Mckesson, Darnell Moore and Brittany Packnett will also appear in the film.

Williams gives the majority of credit to Black women and the Black LGBT community for the leadership and success of the movement.

“There’s simply no movement, there’s not even a semblance of a movement without Black women and Black members of the LGBT community,” the actor explained. “We as men, in particular Black men, are constantly supported, nurtured, forgiven, apologized for, led, followed and coddled by Black women and they get very little in return.”

Williams is an activist himself who has worked on the front lines of the movement and says the foundation on which BLM was built is what he wants to highlight most in the film, The Huffington Post reports.

“I consider this movement a love movement,” he said. “My experiences in Ferguson and everywhere else — as an activist and educator — are that all of our work and experience is, regardless of how [opponents] try to frame it, about love. Love for self, love for us, love for our people.”

The documentary will also address misconceptions of the Black Lives Matter movement that are often exaggerated by conservative commentators such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. The goal is to keep those false ideas from spreading by setting the record straight and informing viewers of what the movement truly seeks to accomplish.

Aside from the aggressive agendas aimed to counter the goals of BLM, The Huffington Post reports that the film will touch on issues experienced within the movement as well, like the the reasons some elders are reluctant to show their support. Williams expressed that these disagreements are OK because he and Grant want the documentary to display a diverse body of thoughts.

“Blackness is not a monolith. We are not homogenous people; we are not all the same,” Williams explained. “It is not a failure to disagree. It is not a failure to experience bumps or turbulence. That’s part of the process. We’re just doing it in public, and we’re just doing it being Black, which draws a magnifying glass to our flaws and to our triumphs.”

The Huffington Post explains that one of the first steps to becoming “woke” is understanding the impact of these dangerous myths and acknowledging how such social constructs disrupt the lives of marginalized people. The news site reports that at one point in the documentary, Williams states, “no matter what we do, we’re late.”

“I say we ‘we’re late’ because the emergency has always been there; it’s just taken a long time to break free,” Williams said of the crucial line in the film. “And if that means you broke free in 2016, then f**k it. You broke free in 2016. You’re ready and you’re here now.”

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