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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
When different kinds of people (religions, races, nationalities) mingle they have an easier time finding common cause and getting along than when different kinds of people never get to interact. Life is a struggle. It's important to learn how to get along with people with whom you differ.
Positive Role Models
Black men talk about leaving their racist hometowns to experience freedom for the first time and about the importance of seeing themselves as winners in their future. White men coming from prejudiced Southern backgrounds try to see things from the point of view of the blacks whose lives were affected by racism.
Violence & Scariness
The lynching of 14-year-old black teen Emmett Till is cited several times and a pictures of his horrifically-beaten face is shown briefly. A montage of newsreels illustrates violence against blacks, including police brutality and the moments after Martin Luther King's assassination. A black Little League team of 12-year-olds is told by white adults that if they come to compete against a white team they will be sent back "in caskets." White men express disgust at white behavior at the 2017 Unite the Right Charlottesville rally, when neo-Nazis and racists proudly marched. A black man recalls seeing a wounded white man in Vietnam who refused "the 'N' word blood" despite his need for a transfusion.
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"Shucks" and "hell." A black man recalls seeing a wounded white man in Vietnam who refused "the 'N' word blood" despite his need for a transfusion.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the 2017 documentary Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story looks at a historic 1955 Florida Little League Regional game between a black team and the only white team in that region willing to play them. The backdrop is the Jim Crow South -- where black 14-year-old Emmett Till had been lynched that very year in Mississippi, and where blacks couldn't use whites-only restrooms, water fountains, restaurants, or hotels. Interviews with men now in their 70s from both teams offer their views on racism and the importance of the experience they shared. Famed professional players Cal Ripken Jr., Hank Aaron, and Gary Sheffield also weigh in. Newsreel images of violence against blacks are shown in montages. Pictures of a horrifically-beaten face are shown briefly. A black Little League team of 12-year-olds is told by white adults that if they come to compete against a white team they will be sent back "in caskets." A black man recalls seeing a wounded white man in Vietnam who refused "the 'N' word blood" despite his need for a transfusion. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This documentary packs a huge emotional punch and does its best to demonstrate the price so many have paid for racism in America. Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story shows the progress that's been made, while also reminding us that racism still manifests across the country. Those high points make the film a worthwhile piece of work that all schoolchildren should see.
But the film's execution by director and writer Jon Strong leaves much room for improvement. One man cries in church, but we are given no context nor any reason why. Better editing, better selection of interviews, and the cutting of meandering moments would all do much to make its important message more attractive and accessible to audiences that most need to see it. It takes far too long to get to the movie's important pieces of information -- that the black team ultimately played a white team, that things didn't go that well, that some of the white team members still don't understand how racism affects black people, and that the film ends with an incredibly moving encounter. The encounter offers hope of better race relations, even as proponents of equality both white and black worry that American racism and xenophobia appear to be less hidden and more vocal in recent years. Interviews with Major League Baseball players Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken Jr., Gary Sheffield and with former U.N. ambassador and civil rights leader Andrew Young don't add much to this already-rich narrative. Although boasting their participation may have lent credibility to the project in the fundraising stages, their contributions really do little to help tell this startling story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.