The story is a difficult but uplifting tale, where the violence and hate that we know too well across our land is challenged by people of good will. I’m happy to say that we have heroes and everyday Americans in our midst who will not tolerate racism, discrimination and murder… and that is what this powerful story is about.
The PBS film, Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness, by the veteran documentary team at The Working Group, out of Oakland, California, tells the story of residents of Patchogue, Long Island, taking action after a series of anti-immigrant attacks by local teenagers ended with the hate crime killing of Marcelo Lucero. An Ecuadorian immigrant, Lucero had been a Patchogue resident for 13 years.
After the tragedy, the story follows Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother Joselo Lucero, and everyday Patchogue residents as they address the underlying causes of the violence, heal divisions, and begin taking steps to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected. It is quite a story, and the characters come to life in powerful ways… You will want to watch this film.
I’m taking a point of personal privilege on behalf of AlterNet to urge you to embrace this film, watch it, of course, on PBS next Wednesday, and actually show it to people in your community, who may not watch it on PBS.
Fifteen years ago, citizens in Billings, Montana came together in a powerful way to respond to a series of hate crimes in their community. The media company, The Working Group (TWG), documented the Billings story in a movie that aired on PBS. That film, Not In Our Town, spawned a movement now active in hundreds of communities and schools throughout the US. AlterNet invested a lot of energy to launch that effort way back then, and over the years I have served on the Board of The Working Group. I have admired their tenacity, creativity, and ability to help everyday people step up and say “No” to acts of hate in their communities.
It is a remarkable effort.
Over 150 Light in the Darkness screenings are now being planned in communities across the country, many as part of the Not In Our Town National Week of Action, September 18-24. The campaign, using the film to inspire positive action, is enjoying tremendous support from over 25 national partners, including the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the National League of Cities and the AFL-CIO. Nearly 20 regional public media outlets have also partnered with Not In Our Town to engage their communities in local Light in the Darkness activities.
And make sure you go to PBS.org and see when Light in the Darkness is being broadcast in your community.