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We Dare Not Fail Premieres at East Village Cinema

We Dare Not Fail Premieres at East Village Cinema

September 14, 2023   |   Uncategorized

On September 16, 2023, for the second year in a row, an animated documentary film produced by Drake Creative for the FDR Presidential Library will premiere on the movie palace screen at East Village Cinemas as part of the Soho Film Festival. We Dare Not Fail tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, American heroes who only wanted to serve their country but became early champions for civil rights because of the color of their skin.

Stories this important should have the chance to be seen on a screen two stories tall.

Projects like We Dare Not Fail show how editorial content, created without marketing in mind, can still drive brand. The FDR Library is a museum and an archives that provides public programming and educational materials. When they produce historic content for entertainment or for education, they advance mission.

Accountability for the Past

And in this case they do so bravely. The FDR Library, in the spirit the President who first made his records from office part of the national trust, shows Roosevelt’s legacy good and bad. We Dare Not Fail reveals an FDR who weighed the pluses and minuses of civil rights against the realities of politics and re-election, but who created the space for his administration to push barriers. The Tuskegee Airmen fought for their country twice: against Hitler’s fascist forces, and against deeply ingrained, Jim Crow racism in the US where as late as World War II the military remained segregated. They helped prepare the way for civil rights when all they wanted to do was be equal citizens in the country of their birth.

The US has come a long way since the segregated military of World War II. But as our illustrator Julian Dwyer, until recently a resident of Florida, says: “Damn shame they probably couldn’t show this film in high schools where I live.”

Historical Content or Social Issue?

Truth is, it’s hard enough to show it on YouTube. Films we produce for the FDR Library fall under public domain as free educational materials for the classroom. In making this film available to teachers this year, YouTube informed us we could not promote it because it involved social issues.

To be very clear about the content of this film, it is produced for the National Archives, vetted by historian Daniel Haulman, retired US Air Force, and relays only facts about events that took place during the FDR administration – content 100 percent appropriate for the FDR Library. As far as I know, and I say this as the writer and director, it addresses zero social issues. But it is about African Americans and segregation in an historic context. I have to wonder if this film would be similarly censored were it about white soldiers in World War II.

If you’ll allow me to stay up here on my soapbox, this is a dangerous reality in our country right now. I find it hard not to get angry when I see conscious efforts to rewrite history and whitewash the truth – as we see in Florida regarding the teaching that enslaved people gained life skills from the experience. It’s a specific type of person who demands this sort of concession, and they have no interest in democracy or knowledge or the act of building our future. To me it most closely resembles the wanton destruction of the Taliban, whether that’s tearing the 1500-year-old Buddhas of Bamiyan to the ground, or preventing a generation of girls from going to school.

I’ll take FDR’s lead. We need to understand the past and hold it to account so that we can build brighter futures. If that sounds scary we’ll do well to remember the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.