Amend: The Fight For America
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Amend: The Fight For America
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Amend: The Fight For America is a limited multimedia series about of the history of the 14th Amendment, the resistance to it, and the impact it has had on oppressed groups. There's some cursing ("f--k," "hell"), and the "N" word is audible. Archival photographs, film excerpts, and news imagery featuring graphic violent images of assaults and arrests, lynchings, protests, hate speech, the KKK, and immigrant children in cages are featured, but all of this is offered in an informative context. Sodomy laws, same-sex marriage, and reproductive rights are also discussed. There's a lot to be learned from the series, but the strong content makes it better suited to older viewers.
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What's the Story?
Executive produced and hosted by Will Smith, AMEND: THE FIGHT FOR AMERICA is a six-part multimedia that tells the story of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. Through interviews with historians and legal experts, archival photographs and media footage, and readings performed by a long list of celebrities, including Mahershala Ali, Diane Guerrero, Samuel L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Laverne Cox, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Pedro Pascal, and Jae Suh Park, it shares the history of the amendment, and the work of Frederick Douglass and others to ensure its ratification. It discusses the violent, and systematic, subversion of the rights it guaranteed African Americans throughout history, and how this led to the Civil Rights movement. It also takes an in-depth look at how the Black community, along with women, the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants, continue to be impacted by the 14th Amendment, and the ways that it continues to both help and fail to serve them.
Is It Any Good?
This outstanding limited series is an upbeat, creative, and informative civics lesson about one of the most reinterpreted Constitutional amendments in U.S. history. It introduces the fact that the U.S. Constitution is a document of ideals, and because of this, fails to concretely define what being a U.S. citizen means. It examines the amendment itself, which guarantees citizenship to those born and naturalized in the U.S., and due process and equal protections under federal law. Each installment illustrates how, after the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, the constitutional ambiguities about citizenship, and the Amendment's failure to specifically address discrimination, has had far-reaching implications. Those include controversial state legislation, the massive efforts to pass federal laws like the Civil Right's Act of 1964 and the failed Equal Rights Amendment, and Supreme Court cases that continue to identify and redefine the rights of oppressed people within the United States.
While decidedly left-leaning, Amend does a good job of presenting constitutional history, and illustrates how the United States has adapted, and resisted, the provisions of the 14th Amendment for over a century. It discusses contemporary issues -- including systematic racism, abortion rights, same-sex marriage, immigration, and the treatment of non-citizens -- through this lens. This creates the space to effectively showcase the country's on-going negotiation of who the 14th Amendment was intended to protect in multiple ways. To its credit, the series also highlights the unique complexities that have become part of this negotiation, especially for individuals who hold two or more oppressed identities (such as Black transgender women). Overall, Amend: The Fight For America isn't just about the 14th Amendment, but about the fact that the fight for progress isn't easy, but must continue in order to protect American democracy.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why it is that the 14th Amendment offers U.S. citizens equal rights and protection under the law, but some communities in the U.S. have limited rights, or are treated differently? What will it take to change this?
Amend: The Fight For America highlights the history of racial violence in the U.S. by showing graphic photographs and media footage of violent acts committed against African American people. Why? How can we can have constructive conversations about racial violence, and what it tells us about the 14th Amendment, with kids?
- Premiere date: February 17, 2021
- Cast: Will Smith, Graham Greene, Diane Guerrero, Laverne Cox, Jae Suh Park
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Activism, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Courage, Gratitude, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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