Documentary reveals everyday life of young black Chicagoans

February 25, 2011

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

Download Story
(Photo courtesy of Mary Morten)
Five Chicago-area African American teenagers from diverse backgrounds are profiled in Mary Morten's 'Woke Up Black.'

Eight Forty-Eight often talks about the big problems facing Chicago – the lack of jobs, the safety and quality of our public schools or the level of crime on our streets. Right or wrong, most of these issues are associated, in varying ways, with the city’s black youth. But black youth are rarely part of this conversation. They’re at the center of debates they don’t have a voice in.

The new film Woke up Black aims to change that. It premieres Friday at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Mary Morten’s feature documentary chronicles the lives of five young people -- some poor, others privileged, all of them black. The idea is to let them speak about their everyday lives and the connections they see between black people of diverse backgrounds. Sheldon Smith is one of the people Morten’s film crew followed. When Eight Forty-Eight's Alison Cuddy spoke with Smith and Morten recently, he began by sharing what it was like having to live on camera.

Lady Foursquare's Music Button: Tevo Howard, "Dusa" (original disco mix), Dusa