Film festival presents Ward-Brown’s ‘Never Been a Time’

“Never Been a Time” uses the 1917 East St. Louis race riot to unpack hidden facts that reveal the complexity of racism in all of America. The film links events separated by as much as a 100 years and as few as 20 miles, tracing the line between the East St. Louis pogrom — one of the worst racially motivated massacres in American history — and the 2014 racial uprisings in Ferguson and the 2017 protests in Minnesota over the shooting death of Philando Castile. Moving from micro to macro, the film broadens to include the full sweep of the African-American experience, showing the unequal citizenship accorded to blacks on all levels: economic, political, and social. The words of poets, the recollections of descendants, the analyses of scholars, and the testimonies of the 1917 victims create a multilayered documentary that demonstrates there has “never been a time” when people of African descent were treated with fairness in the U.S. without some type of demand for change.

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