Filmmakers documenting America’s racial reckoning are also recording history: Part 1

Before the world watched George Floyd’s killing, there were images of Emmett Till, the Little Rock Nine and the LA uprising. Filmmakers talk about continuing to document history through their lenses.
13:42 | 09/09/20

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Transcript for Filmmakers documenting America’s racial reckoning are also recording history: Part 1
Right now, at this defining moment in America. With so much on the line, from ABC news, "My America, your America, our America." This is "Turning point." Tonight, how the killing of breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey and George Floyd led us to a moment of reckoning. The journey of four film makers, documenting history, as protests erupt across the country, demanding change. Black lives matter! The injustice that led us here. Is this finally America's turning point? Tonight, the lens of history. Ah, is there a certain way my hair or look should look? I don't know. Is that max? Okay, yeah, I can hear you. Are we Rollin' this? George Floyd, well, I think like everybody, we saw the footage on television, and it was, I don't know, harrowing, it was just devastating to see. Did really was striking that this could still happen in a global pandemic, like folks are still being killed by, by police. As George Floyd said "I can't breathe", there was only what I depicted to be hatred, what I depicted to be racism. And I knew that this was going to be shattering. At that point, all I knew to do was to pick up my camera. I'm Mike Shum, I'm 35 years old, I live in St. Paul, Minnesota U and I'm a documentary film maker. In the final moments of George Floyd's life. Hey, hey, hey. How many times have we watched police officers murder people. I am sick and tired! It was clear that how much pain there was, it was a combination of tension and anger and frustration. But I'm going to tell what you we're about to go through. We're going back to the precinct right now. And we're going to disrupt their peace like they continue to disrupt our peace. I think, when he died, there was a thing that came and says covid be damned. I'm going to come out and do what I can do. There have been events in history that you read about. And then there are those moments of things happening around you, and you realize, oh, my god, I am witnessing history. No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! I felt, let me just get closer and see what this feels like. We are not all ignorant. We are not all useless. My sins want to live! My brothers want to live! My dad wanna live. We wanna live! The feeling of a degree of fear and adrenaline and tension at various moments, it's probably because I'm feeling the same way. Hands up. Don't shoot! It wasn't just senseless, and I was just one angle of that. So, while the movement and inflection point that we're experiencing today may have been ignited by the visible death of George Floyd, it's about looking at systemic racism and institutional racism in all of its forms. Racism happens on college campuses, at work. The ways it is baked into the housing system, our economic system, our education system. What we're seeing today is a continuum, a continuation of what has been besetting our country for generations. The difference now is that we all are able to see with our own I think people have gotten to a point where enough just became enough. My name is chidi nobi. I am from England via Nigeria and I'm a film maker based in New York City. I'm recording the events as they happened. I remain impartial. I record both sides. And I let the story play out and tell itself. Show them love while they're alive! It is your duty to protect black people! It is your duty to protect black women! No justice! Over the course of this summer, I don't know how many I've covered. My mother asked me, why do you have to be on the streets every day? Because it's the right thing to do. The story never ends. You just keep on shooting. It's been said that history is written by the victors. But, what's different today, because of technology, everybody has a camera. Everybody now can document history. And everybody can judge for themselves, who's good, who's evil, who's right, who's wrong. I think that George Floyd means to people my age, I'm 77, what Emmett till meant. I was a little girl when Emmett was murdered. I know that we expected the law to find them guilty. And, of course, the law said "Not guilty", as if it were a One of the realities about change in our nation's history is that it's often bloody and violent and brutal and dangerous and scary. And cameras capture those images. When I think about the images of John Lewis on that bridge, those marchers during bloody Sunday being bludgeoned. I can't help but think about the importance of visual imagery. After the activism of the '60s, there seemed to be a lull in activity or our sensibilities. And then 1991, the beating of Rodney king. We're among a group of 15 who stopped a 25-year-old black man last Saturday night, then beat him, kicked him and clubbed him, unaware that an amateur photographer was recording the incident on videotape. I was a young reporter then, sent to cover the L.A. Riots in 1992. To the people of south central L.A., that 30-hour rampage was more revolt than And then, like now, I find myself covering that same level of frustration and anger in streets across America. A Chicago police detective charged with killing an unarmed woman, not guilty. The family of rakeyia Boyd erupted in anger. New video today in the night Jason Van Dyke killedla Kwan McDonald. My name is Ashley o'shay. I'm from Chicago, Illinois. I'm 27 years old and I'm a cinematographer and documentarien. I in college in 2012 when trayvon martin was killed, that was really like the genesis for the current movement for black lives, but at the time of course we didn't know that. I was in the street in 2014. I was one of many people in the street for days in Ferguson. If we were not in the street for Mike Brown people would have said we didn't exist. It wasn't until we went to the street that we took away people's ability to say this isn't an issue. We use our bodies to say "Here's what's true." First time that I brought ply camera to a protest was in the fall of 2015 when I began the film making process for my documentary. It's basically a deep look into the movement for black lives in Chicago, told through the experiences of two young black queer women. We are black history in the making. There was literally a wall of police that was protecting this in that moment, I realized that this film had a lot more to it. Push my bike again. Hold up! I think that who is behind the lens matters as much as who is in front of the lens. When I got into the field with my camera to document a protest or event or rally, I'm still a black woman in America that still has, people are going to see me, and that's not something I feel I can abandon because I have a camera in my hand. 2020 did not happen in a vacuum. It comes after decades and decades of this kind of violence, where we see people killed, unjustifiably. I think that, that visual imagery that we're seeing now across America, as unarmed black men and women are being killed that's brought us to this inflection point. There's black life. And there's a white neon. And I think that it's very simple to break that metaphor in your mind from this national story that's 401 years old to this incident that happened in this one city in this one state in this country. If not for the lens, white supremacy for sure will try to convince you that it literally never happened, right? Clashes in Kentucky. To demand justice for breonna Taylor. A no-knock warrant. Shot her to death while she was sleeping. It's been over 175 days since breonna Taylor's murder, and none of her killers have been arrested. My name is Maxwell Mitchell, I'm from Louisville, Kentucky, 32 years old, and I'm a live streamer. I say the chants. I stand with the protesters, facing the police. Set me up. And so I always say, protesting live streamer or live streaming protester, if you will. It's a combination of the two. People want to see what is happening. People want to see what's going on. This is what democracy looks like. The first time I went on a protest was late March. There hasn't been one day that I've taken off. Breonna's birthday, the balloon release. That day was so impactful. I remember tearing up, being out there with everyone, seeing those blue and white balloons being released in the air. People wanted to be part of that, it was such an impactful day, one I will never fire get. Protest is not the solution. Protest creates space for the solution. I do believe 50 years from now, when people look back on this time, that the imagery, all be it film or photography will be the defining moment of what happened in the black lives matter movement in 2020. This is not justice! Coming up next, a summer of unrest ends with another shooting. I'm tired! Of looking at cameras and seeing these young black and brown people suffer! Honey

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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