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American Reckoning directed by Yoruba Richen and Brad Lichtenstein trailer
American Reckoning directed by Yoruba Richen and Brad Lichtenstein (PBS | screenshot via Youtube)

American Reckoning is an extraordinary look at the civil rights era – the violence and resistance – through rare footage filmed more than 50-years ago in Natchez, Mississippi, and the still-unresolved killing of local NAACP leader Wharlest Jackson.

From acclaimed directors and producers Brad Lichtenstein (When Claude Got Shot, Messwood) and Yoruba Richen (The Killing of Breonna Taylor, The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show), the film opens in theaters beginning February 11, 2022 for one week exclusive engagement in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Monica Film Center; followed by broadcast premiere on February 15, 2022 on Frontline/PBS – 10PM/9PM CT.

American Reckoning examines Black opposition to racist violence in Mississippi, spotlighting a little-known armed resistance group called the Deacons for Defense and Justice, woven alongside the Jackson family’s decades-long search for justice amid the ongoing federal effort to investigate civil rights era cold cases.

Drawing on intimate, archival film footage of the civil rights era — much of it never-before broadcast — from filmmakers Ed Pincus and David Neuman and made available through the Amistad Research Center, American Reckoning offers a window into an untold story of a Black-led liberation and self-defense movement in Natchez, as well as the funeral of Wharlest Jackson Sr. and its aftermath.

Combining verité footage from 1965 and 1967, profound interviews, extensive reporting, and rich archival material from the time of Jackson’s death, the documentary feature also taps into the groundbreaking reporting of the Concordia Sentinel journalist Stanley Nelson, who investigated allegations of the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan offshoot, known as the Silver Dollar Group, in Jackson’s murder.

Watch the trailer for American Reckoning.

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