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American Promise

AMERICAN PROMISE is a 13-year documentary journey following two black American boys from kindergarten through high school graduation at one of the most prestigious private schools in the U.S.

Director: Joe Brewster, Michele Stephenson
Year: 2013
Time: 135 min

 American Promise
(2013) on IMDb

Watch the Film

US: JustWatch
UK: JustWatch
Other Ways To Watch

Download Discussion Guide

Ways to Influence

Share this film. Give others the chance to learn from its story. 

Join or start a Promise Club– a parental support club – if you are a parent or caregiver. 

Read Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life, a book published as a companion to the film.

Support the 2025 Network for Black Men and Boys aimed at improving black males’ chances for success.

Related Articles and Resources

5 Things You Should Know about AMERICAN PROMISE

In this Sundance interview, Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster offer insights into their 13-year filmmaking journey.

“First off, this experience is not over,” said director Joe Brewster. “For us it’s just getting started. It looks like we will spend the next two years of our lives using the film as a learning device.”

Beyond Cinema Original Interview

Watch this interview with Seun, Idris, Joe and Michele following a Sundance film screening. In the words of Michele, “There were some very tough choices we had to make for the sake of having a story that had a strong dramatic arc.”


Films that inspired or were inspired by the literary world.

On Success

The desire for successful children in a performance-based culture often consumes us before we realize it. “More is better” might innocently trickle into the mindset, but the dynamics of a competitive society can easily become a part of our daily lives.

The Huffington Post addresses teenage anxiety and depression as a result of academic pressure in the Global Search for Education.


“We’re excluded from the whites,” said Idris, describing the cafeteria as “whites on one side and blacks on the other.”

Read the full New York Times article.

When Minority Students Attend Elite Private Schools

“Many parents of color send their children to exclusive, predominantly white schools in an attempt to give their kids a ‘ticket to upward mobility.’ But these well-resourced institutions can fall short at nurturing minority students emotionally and intellectually.”

Read more in The Atlantic.


A set of films that shine a light on racial injustice and those who stand against it.


Did you know that black students are more likely to have their homework checked than their peers? Or that black NFL players get hit with more than 90% of unsportsmanlike penalties?

This data from Mother Jones shows the discrepancies between blacks and whites, and how misperceptions keep racism alight.

Racism’s Tenacious Hold

CNN reports on the rise of anti-black tendencies in the U.S. hindering the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Obama’s New Program Targeting Black Male Issues

Read more about this much-needed act.


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