“I have the greatest story that has never been told.” Those bold words by David C. Banks immediately draw you into “The Infamous Future,” a new documentary that focuses on the inspiring educators and exceptional students of the Eagle Academy For Young Men schools in New York City.
It’s a welcome glimpse into an educational model, sense of community spirit and support system that invests in young Black and brown men from inner-city communities. And, is helping to mold them into responsible leaders with strong character and a record of academic excellence.
Told through the eyes of teachers, students and alumni of Eagle Academy schools, it’s a moving story of how a mission to empower, uplift and support these young men has resulted in great success, and is defying the often-negative narratives conveyed about young Black and brown men in America.
“We have an opportunity each day to consider that the negative news isn’t the only news for the day, and take a look at something that is creating a different, positive headline through Eagle Academy,” said John Campbell who wrote and executive produced the film. “I wanted to write a story about something positive in education and hoped that it would motivate the viewer to be inspired.”
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Eagle Academy schools, which are headed by Banks, who is President and CEO of The Eagle Academy Foundation in partnership with 100 Black Men Inc., are dedicated to improving the outcomes for young men of color from inner-city neighborhoods.
“A lot of people, you know, believe that you’re from the South Bronx, you’re not going to make it, you’re not going to go to college, you’re not going to be what you want to be,” Joshua Perez says in the film. Perez, a standout student from The Eagle Academy For Young Men of the Bronx shares many of the challenges he’s faced in life as well as his triumphs as he completes his seven-year journey at the school and prepares to start college.
The creation of these all-male, public schools (grades 6-12) was actually a positive response to something negative— a staggering statistic that 75 percent of prisoners incarcerated in New York State prisons came from just seven neighborhoods in New York City. These neighborhoods including the South Bronx, Brownsville, Brooklyn and Harlem, are all locations where Eagle Academy students call home.
“I honestly hope that people are as inspired by that fight as they are troubled by some of the statistics, “The Infamous Future” director, Richard Butterworth told theGrio via email.
Since the establishment of the first Eagle Academy School for Young Men in the South Bronx in 2004, five more schools have opened generating education for close to 3,000 Black and Latino young men.
What you see and feel when watching “The Infamous Future” goes beyond an understanding of what these schools are providing. Viewers will become aware of the incredibly intentional support of the social and emotional growth of these young men of color. And, it will showcase how these schools and their leaders are working to addresses some of the shortfalls in public education.
Campbell and Butterworth spent close to a year following Banks as well as teachers, students and partners exploring how this educational vision became a success. What these filmmakers so intimately capture is the spirit of ambition to learn and achieve that is instilled in these students.
You see a genuine sense of brotherhood, consciousness and community. It puts you up close and personal to “The Eagle Model” — an education paradigm that can potentially have success in other places across the country where assistance is needed in reclaiming young Black men from gangs and guns.
It is already proving successful with “ The Brooklyn 9”, an initiative where nine schools in the Brooklyn, New York area have also adapted the Eagle model with the support of Brooklyn Borough President, Eric. L. Adams, who is also featured in the documentary and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.
“What I sincerely hope that people will learn is that in spite of the challenges happening in our neighborhoods, in our country, and with some of the racial stereotypes that are forced upon many young Black and brown boys, we have educators who are committed to making a difference,” said Campbell.
“ We have visionaries such as Mr. Banks and the Founders of Eagle Academy who set the foundation for positive disruption in the education system, and children and parents willing to dream.”
Here’s a sneak peak to the documentary below:
The creators of “The Infamous Future” have started hosting screenings and panel discussions about the documentary in New York City. At the start of 2019, the film will hit the film festival circuit in the U.S. and beyond. For more information about screenings of “The Infamous Future”, please visit https://www.facebook.com/TheInfamousFuturedoc/