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Free documentary screening and discussion will explore race and education

Several area organizations that work to strengthen the Des Moines’ education community will present two free screenings of American Promise, an award-winning new documentary that explores the impact of race on school achievement. The screenings will take place Monday, Dec. 9 at the Fleur Cinema & Café, 4545 Fleur Dr., at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. A panel discussion featuring local education leaders and students, including Drake University Provost Deneese Jones will run from 6:30–7 p.m. between screenings.

The film follows two African-American boys from kindergarten through high school graduation at one of the most prestigious private schools in the country, but raises questions with a far greater scope. “American Promise” puts human faces to the unique social and emotional needs of black boys and challenges commonly held assumptions about education access and what really influences achievement.

Mary Sellers, president of United Way of Central Iowa, will introduce the screenings. United Way’s Education Leadership Initiative ensures students are supported during middle school, successfully make the transition from middle to high school, and succeed through graduation.

Community and education leaders participating in the 6:30 p.m. panel discussion include:
Deneese Jones, provost of Drake University
Tom Ahart, Drake alumnus and superintendent of Des Monies Public Schools
Dawn Martinez Oropeza, executive director of Latinas/ Latinos al Éxito
Charles Mercer IV, community schools coordinator at North High, boys basketball coach, and founder of Vision Athletics
Dwight Miller, founder of The Greater Men Foundation Inc.

Student panelists include:
Mario Cruz, a junior at Hoover High School
Kathryn Garcia, a senior at East High School
Rashaad Pryor, a senior at Lincoln High School

Fleur Cinema & Café generously donated theater space to host the screenings. In addition, the event is made possible thanks to the following organizations: Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation, Drake University School of Education, RUN DSM, and the United Way of Central Iowa. Both the screenings and the discussion are open to the public at no cost, and reservations are not required.

For more information, contact b.sanchez@drake.edu or 515-271-1974. Additional information about the panelists is available upon request.