Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities

Tell Them We Are Rising explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities have played in America.

HBCU students
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
February 19, 2018
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2018 News and Documentary Emmy Awards-Outstanding Historical Documentary
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2017 NAACP Image Award-Outstanding Documentary (Film)
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2017 Utah Teens Talk FIlm-Most Woke Award
  • Headshot of Stanley Nelson

    Stanley Nelson

    Stanley Nelson is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, MacArthur “genius” Fellow, and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama in August 2014. Nelson has directed and produced numerous acclaimed films, including Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Independent Lens), Freedom Summer, Freedom Riders, Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple Show more and The Murder of Emmett Till. He is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Firelight Films and co-founder of Firelight Media, which provides technical support to emerging documentarians. Show less


    Marco Williams

    Marco Williams is a filmmaker and film educator, best known for Two Towns of Jasper, which won a Peabody Award and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. His directing credits include: The Undocumented (Independent Lens/PBS); Inside the New Black Panthers (National Geographic); Banished (Independent Lens/PBS); Freedom Summer (History Show more Channel); I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (MTV); MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream (Discovery Times); Making Peace: Rebuilding our Communities (PBS); The Pursuit of Happiness: With Arianna Huffington (PBS); Without a Pass (PBS); In Search of Our Fathers (Frontline/PBS); and From Harlem to Harvard (The Learning Channel). In addition to the Peabody, Williams’ awards include a Beacon, an Alfred I duPont, a Pan African Film Festival Outstanding Documentary Award, a Full Frame Documentary Festival Spectrum Award, and the National Association of Black Journalists First Place Salute to Excellence Award. Show less


    Cyndee Readdean

    Cyndee Readdean is a New York-based independent producer, director, and writer. Her work includes producing the Peabody Award-winning documentary Freedom Summer. The film premiered at Sundance and aired on PBS’s American Experience. Also for PBS, Cyndee produced and directed Native American Boomtown and Politics of the New South (America by the Numbers Show more series) and No Obama Drama (Postcards From the Great Divide series). Show less

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    The Film

    Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities is a documentary and interactive project that explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played in American history, culture, and national identity. Today, over half of all African American professionals are graduates of HBCUs. More than 50% of the nation’s African American public school teachers and 70% of African American dentists earned degrees at HBCUs. The film brings to a broad national audience for the first time the story of HBCUs and the power of higher education to transform lives and advance civil rights and equality in the face of intolerance and injustice.