Premiered OCTOBER 7, 2016
The State of The American Dream
On September 27, 2016 a group of viewers joined DPTV for a preview screening of Dream On at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History. A lively discussion on the state of the American Dream. Panelists included: Jyarland Daniels, Founder/CEO of Harriet Speaks; Raquel Castañeda-López, Detroit City Council member; Tawana "Honeycomb" Petty, social justice organizer; Yusef Shakur, author; and Andre Watson, social entrepreneur. Watch the panel discussion after you watch some of the videos below:
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Andre Watson has dedicated his life to helping the African American community bridge the wealth gap, but the lack of dialogue surrounding finances is making that hard to accomplish. Andre was one of three children, living with a single mother in northwest Detroit. The daily struggles he faced--neighborhood violence being one of the most prevalent--never deterred him from his goals.
Learning from his mother’s determination, Andre excelled in academics, eventually winning more than 20 scholarships in high school to help pay for college. In college, he studied finance--a subject that showed him it was possible to break the cycle of generational poverty. Now, he wants to share that knowledge with the African American community.
Robert Johnson, Jr.
Robert Johnson Jr. trained to be an actor but he’s got a gift for customer service. Robert’s father was an educator who told his son to follow his passion. Robert succeeded in school, graduating from a renowned performing arts high school and enrolling at the University of Michigan to study theatre. His father’s untimely death as he started college was a setback. Now Robert is 31, trying to work off his college debt, excelling at his appliance sales job despite the obstacle of a soul-killing, six-hour commute due to inconsistent and non-existent public transit in some parts of Detroit. With his charisma and drive, he has the opportunity to move up into management. Now his life could change, but his dream of performing as an actor might be lost in the pursuit of his American dream.
Tsehaya Smith is an accomplished dancer and choreographer. Her career was thriving until her mother passed away and Tsehaya was left a house drowning in debt. Overwhelmed by the stress and fear from the financial burden, Tsehaya’s teeth and fair began to fall out. With the help of Detroit Eviction Defense, she found triumph in court by proving that the loan on the house had been illegally predatory. With the trouble behind her, Tsehaya has picked up where she left off—teaching dance to a new generation of dreamers.
Yusef "Bunchy" Shakur
A founding member of Detroit’s “Zone 8” gang, Yusef Shakur found himself behind bars for nine years during which time he rehabilitated his attitude about himself, society and the future he wanted for both—he earned a college degree, developed his spirituality, and stepped up as a leader both in thought and action. Upon his release he went to work healing a deeply broken community; in his neighborhood 40% of households live below the poverty line. The murder risk is eight times the national average, and 31% of residents over the age of 25 did not complete high school. Now as an author and activist, Yusef publically speaks about the vicious cycle of crime and imprisonment that poverty creates and advocates for a change in the narrative about Detroit by changing the actions that fuel it.