Your RELENTLESS Watch List

Looking for your next binge watch? Complement our Relentless public programs with this recommended media list, curated by playwright Tyla Abercrumbie and compiled with commentary by dramaturg Katie Jacobsen. 

Beah Richards: A Black Woman Speaks on White Womanhood

Actress, poet, and political activist Beah Richards recites her famous poem “A Black Woman Speaks on White Womanhood, of White Supremacy, of Peace.” This performance and poem draws upon the racialized, gendered, and sexualized co-existence of race in America. It’s an incredible piece that Tyla recommended, saying, “I think our audience will find this just amazing.”

Vox: When White Supremacists Overthrew a Government

“I love this one because it’s very important to know what has been going on. It’s been called a lie for too long,” said Tyla. When a multiracial government elected to run North Carolina in 1898 was overthrown by a group of white supremacists, history’s response was to cover it up and rewrite history. As Tyla points out, any story that tells this kind of revisionist history is striking: “What we’re living right now is revisionist history. It’s very clear that there was a concerted effort to kill off any wealth. Listening to the women that start off the video – how can you refuse to give information from a library?!”

Vox: How Southern Socialites Rewrote Civil War History

“The Lost Cause,” an intellectual movement that was taught in Georgia for decades, was an effective pro-southern rewriting of Civil War history promoted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The women of the UDC are the ones responsible for the extreme number of Confederate statues that were erected during the early 1900s, while the UDC was at its height of influence. For Tyla, this video “shows [humanity’s] willingness to be a ‘bad human.’ They rewrote history books just so they could maintain a lie and therefore maintain power. You’re telling a black/brown child that they are worthless and then you’re giving them a book that confirms these lies.” This documentary highlights the fact that “yes, white women have been active and were aware of what they were doing. They were not victims as much as history likes to say they were.”

The Red Summer: The Chicago Race Riots of 1919

The Red Summer refers to the summer and early autumn of 1919, which was marked by hundreds of deaths and higher casualties across the United States, as a result of race riots that occurred in more than three dozen cities and one rural county. Said Tyla, “This video just so significant because one of the things Franklin says throughout the play is that 1919 will not be a repeat of 1918. I wanted Franklin to have a voice that is optimistic. Every battle that we fight is moving us forward, and then the Red Summer happens. This unrest is bleeding its way across the country, and before you know it you have a tremendous amount of people dead. What we all should know right now is that if you don’t learn from history you are doomed to repeat it.” 

Deadliest Plague of the 20th Century: Flu of 1918

This documentary outlines the events surrounding the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish Flu, a moment in time made deeply relevant by the one we’re facing right now with COVID. “A lot of what they were doing during the Spanish flu, we’re doing right now,” Tyla noted, “There was so much arrogance, just like there is now.”

The Civil War, a film by Ken Burns

This miniseries, originally aired on PBS in 1990 in five parts, became one of the most influential pieces of Civil War documentation. “These are just brilliant … it’s just a really great series to sit and watch,” noted Tyla. “I seat my characters at one point in history, but what they’ve come from and what they move towards is so significant to their story.”

Learn more about Relentless, the play these videos inspired—a world premiere play about family, legacy, and progress. 

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