Just Mercy, the Innocence Files, & Solitary

Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy) & The Innocence Project (The Innocence Files) & Albert Woodfox (Solitary)

Both of these resources address the racism deeply rooted in our criminal justice system. It is important to remember that the issue of racism transcends far beyond profiling by police in the streets. The criminal/judicial system has remained comfortable exercising deplorably discriminatory policies/practices. We must realize this and make a change. These resources will both shed a light on the reality of wrongful conviction (transcend any of mistaken identity or lack of evidence to the contrary of guilt) and the horrors of being Black in prison (and prison conditions in general).

Review by Grace Ruane

Get Solitary at Loyola University Library.

Get Just Mercy at Loyola University Library.

Watch The Innocence Files on Netflix.


Slavery by Another Name

Directed by Sam Pollard

This PBS documentary, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the same name by Douglas A. Blackmon, examines the history of prison labor from the end of the Civil War into the 20th century and how it was designed to perpetuate forced labor along racial lines even after slavery had been abolished. It shows in vivid, gut-wrenching detail how an institution was created to serve a few over the needs and dignity of a great many, told through first-hand accounts, letters, newspapers, and a wide range of other contemporary sources.

Watch this documentary on youtube.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Directed by Julia Marchesi

Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents a vital new four-hour documentary series on Reconstruction: America After the Civil War. The series explores the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction, and revolutionary social change. The twelve years that composed the post-war Reconstruction era (1865-77) witnessed a seismic shift in the meaning and makeup of our democracy, with millions of former slaves and free black people seeking out their rightful place as equal citizens under the law. Though tragically short-lived, this bold democratic experiment was, in the words of W. E. B. Du Bois, a ‘brief moment in the sun’ for African Americans, when they could advance, and achieve, education, exercise their right to vote, and run for and win public office.

Watch this documentary on PBS.


Directed by: Ava DuVernay

What does it mean to be a criminal? This documentary investigates the racial disparities in the United States prison and justice system. A loophole in the 13th amendment that allows criminals to be enslaved, has been used in different iterations over the last 150 years to target communities of color, primarily Black. This documentary puts the criminalization of Black people as a continuation of American Chattel Slavery. The film argues that systemic racism not only exists in the justice system but does extreme damage to communities of color. 13th provides valuable context and exposes the roots of racial disparities in the United States justice system.

Watch this documentary on Netflix.