POV: American Promise

About This Episode


A documentary 13 years in the making, American Promise provides a rare look at the experiences of Idris Stephenson and Seun Summers after filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents living in Brooklyn, decided to turn their camera on their son and friend.

Follow the young boys as they make their way through the very prestigious, and historically white, private The Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The school, which made a commitment to recruit students of color, placed the two boys in a demanding environment that provided new opportunities and challenges with little reflection of their cultural identities.

The Summers soon found themselves struggling not only with kids' typical growing pains and the kinds of racial issues one might expect, but also with surprising class, gender and generational gaps. Chronicling the boys' divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation, American Promise finds the greatest challenge for the families - and perhaps the country - is to close the black male educational achievement gap, which has been called "the civil rights crusade of the 21st century."