The film, The Long Black Line, tells my family's story. The inspiration behind it began in 2000 when my father's health declined and I found myself returning more often to my family's East Texas farm to look after my parents.

During one trip, I learned I had spent the first year of my life with my grandmother, Arvetta Wright. Even though I grew up far from Arvetta, whenever I returned to the farm to visit, she was always there with open arms and wonderful stories. She was not an educated woman by modern standards, but she was wise. I realized it was she who had planted the seeds in me of who I would become and how I would live my life. Her memory eventually became the driving force behind my goal to use storytelling to inspire young people and bring communities together. She died in 1992. The film is dedicated to her, and my dad, Herman Wright, Sr.

The Long Black Line is an American story, though one not so frequently told. It chronicles the African American rise in the 1930's and 1940's, from discrimination, poverty and educational inequality to new opportunities and possibilities for young Black Americans. This is one of many similar stories of African American families across the South during troubled times, how they persevered, preparing their young people to partake in the building of a better nation.

Eventually the story leaves East Texas, becoming interwoven with global events of the 1950's and 1960's -civil rights and war. And yet, the story never leaves the rural communities where strong mothers gave, as Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg address,"their last full measure" to push their children into a larger world

The Long Black Line remembers where my family came from and provides a model of success for a new generation as they seek their way into an ever more complex and challenging world. The film also recognizes the function of family and community in helping young people realize their goals. But most significantly, it celebrates those strong women, mothers and grandmothers, who not only keep the family stories that remind us of who we are and what we are capable of, but are also the glue that holds us together.

Listen to them. I did.

Herman Wright -- Director

The Wright Family Homestead
Arvetta Barnett Wright
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