Netflix announced its partnership with renowned and sometimes controversial professor Dr. Ibram X. Kendi in January 2021 to produce two documentaries and an animated series based on his bestselling books. One of the documentaries, Stamped from the Beginning, will be released on Netflix in 2023.
As mentioned, all three projects were announced at the beginning of 2021 (Netflix has removed the article from its press release center at the time of updating), with the animated project eventually being axed in May 2022.
Both documentaries (one of which is a hybrid-scripted feature) will be directed by Emmy Award-winner Roger Ross Williams (The Innocence Files, The Apollo, Life, Animated, Music by Prudence) through his production company One Story Up.
They will be executive produced by NAACP Image Award-winner Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, The Game, Being Mary Jane). Dr. Kendi will also serve as executive producer.
Dr. Kendi commented in a statement:
“I’m elated these projects landed at Netflix. What a wonderful partner. I’m elated to work with Roger Ross Williams, Mara Brock Akil, and Chris Nee. They are such ambitious, innovative, and passionate creators who are committed to racial justice. But I’m really elated for the viewers, for the adults and children who will be captivated, informed, and transformed by these projects.”
Director Roger Ross Williams added:
“Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s ‘Stamped from the Beginning’ and ‘Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You’ are powerful and essential pieces of literature that clearly outline how deeply rooted racist ideas are in the United States. I hope these films crystallize Dr. Kendi’s message that ‘the only thing wrong with Black people is that they think something is wrong with Black people’ and encourage everyone to fight for a more equitable society. I am thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring Dr. Kendi’s incredible work and crucial insights to a broader audience.”
The two projects were announced along with an animated series aimed at young kids called Antiracist Baby, but Netflix canceled it along with many other animated projects as part of their reevaluation of content specifically in their animation department.
Who is Dr. Ibram X. Kendi?
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist scholars. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor. Dr. Kendi is also the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Dr. Kendi is the author of many books, including “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest ever award winner. “Stamped from the Beginning” was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and nominated for a NAACP Image Award.
About Stamped from the Beginning
Netflix’s Stamped from the Beginning is a hybrid documentary/scripted feature that will release in 2023 that’s based on Dr. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas,” and will be directed and produced by Oscar and Emmy Award-winner Roger Ross Williams (The Innocence Files, The Apollo, Life, Animated, Music by Prudence) through his production company One Story Up and executive produced by NAACP Image Award-winner Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, The Game, Being Mary Jane). Dr. Kendi will also serve as executive producer.
Here’s the official synopsis for Stamped from the Beginning:
“Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America – more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi argues in “Stamped from the Beginning,” if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.”
What’s on Netflix learned that a portion of the documentary was filmed in June 2022 in New York City, USA.
Per Netflix’s 2023 slate documentary:
“Williams’ documentary adaptation uses vivid animations that illuminate figures and moments both well-known and obscure, both historical and contemporary. Leading female academics and activists such as Dr. Angela Davis, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Dr. Jennifer L. Morgan, and Dr. Kendi guide viewers through a searing account of how racist tropes and imagery were developed and enshrined in American culture.”
Featured in the documentary include Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Dr. Angela Davis, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, and Brittany Packnett Cunningham.
About Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You
Netflix’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You will be a companion documentary to Stamped from the Beginning (not currently confirmed for a 2023 release) that’s aimed at younger viewers. It’s based on the #1 New York Times bestseller for young adults of the same name by Dr. Kendi and Jason Reynolds and will be directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams and executive produced by Dr. Kendi.
Here’s the official synopsis for Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You:
“The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. A companion documentary to Stamped from the Beginning, this film reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You aims to take young viewers on a race journey, exploring how we got here, why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers.”
Note: This preview was first published in June 2022 and was last updated in July 2023.