Traveling While Black (TWB) is a timely and urgent multi-platform storytelling project that immerses global audiences in the American story of minorities’ struggle for freedom of movement. Directed by Academy Award winning director Roger Ross Williams, TWB will help facilitate dialogue, and examine what racism does to individuals through the lens of travel. The project will consist of a media-rich website featuring a series of short videos and interactive elements, virtual reality experiences, and a museum exhibit.
The American public is currently engaged in a debate about contemporary issues of racism, including the idea of movement and traveling while black. These discussions are fueled by recent tragic cases and the high incidences of racial profiling and stop-and-frisk that have gained media attention. Roger feels contemporary experiences will illuminate issues of the past while historical experiences will give context to the present – all on a platform designed to collectively address these issues.
Our AWB grant will be put towards the research research and development of TWB’s website, and help launch the first short of the series. The team plans to create a series of 3-5 minute shorts for the site, which will aim to foster a cross-generational dialogue. The first of these shorts will be a piece directed by Roger who will engage in a conversation with an older relative about the shared experiences of traveling as a black American both in the past and present. These are timely and urgent stories that need to be shared and the TWB website will collect stories from the public and then serve as an archive for these stories that are not being heard.
Roger previously directed God Loves Uganda, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to enormous critical acclaim. It was shortlisted for a 2014 Academy Award, has won over a dozen awards and screened at over 60 film festivals worldwide. He also directed and produced Music by Prudence, which won the 2010 Academy Award for documentary short subject. He is the first African American to win an Oscar for directing and producing a film, short or feature. Wowza!