Today in 2016, visionary filmmaker Ava DuVernay announced that the National Museum of African American History and Culture commissioned her to make an exclusive film that would debut at its grand opening. For her 22-minute documentary, DuVernay decided to focus on one particular date: today, August 28.
“August 28th, a lot of really, truly amazing things happened in African American history,” DuVernay told Gayle King in a 2016 interview. “They all fell on this date in different years.”
As explained in the interview with King and in an Instagram post, DuVernay highlighted key events that happened on this date in Black history.
When I got the call, I was awe-struck. Would I be interested in a commission? To make a film for the new Smithsonian African-American museum? That would be installed on a continuous loop in the museum for years? Gulp. And yes! I chose to focus on a date that has fascinated me for years. Today. August 28. The date that Emmett Till was murdered in one year. Which is the same date that the March on Washington and “I Have A Dream” occurred in another year. Which is the same date that Katrina made land fall in yet another year. Which is the same date that Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for POTUS in yet another year. Which is today this year. In my eyes, August 28 tells so much about black history through the lens of one date. The Smithsonian let me tell this story. And many friends helped. With a black producing team, cinematographer, camera team, electrical team, production designers, costume designer, composer, casting director, assistant directors and more (yes, there are that many African-Americans proficient in all capacities behind the camera), we made a film quietly over two weekends in early August. Our stellar cast is Don Cheadle, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Angela Bassett, Andre Holland, Regina King, Michael Ealy, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and the legend Glynn Turman. This is a museum exclusive. Debuting with the opening of the illustrious and important @NMAAHC in September! Honored to be a part of it. xo!advertisement
“Today. August 28. The date that Emmett Till was murdered in one year. Which is the same date that the March on Washington and ‘I Have A Dream’ occurred in another year. Which is the same date that Katrina made land fall in yet another year,” DuVernay wrote in an Instagram post. “Which is the same date that Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for POTUS in yet another year. Which is today this year. In my eyes, August 28 tells so much about Black history through the lens of one date.”
DuVernay’s short-film, ‘August 28: A Day in the Life of a People,” premiered on the OWN network on Tuesday night.
Here are more details about significant August 28 dates as reported by HuffPost.
August 28, 1833: Slavery was abolished in the United Kingdom, which had a “trickle down effect and led to American abolition of slavery,” DuVernay said.
August 28, 1955: 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally murdered by a group of white men. His death became one of the major incidents that fueled the civil rights movement, as well as one of the most important stories in U.S. history.
August 28, 1963: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech at the March On Washington.
August 28, 2005: Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana.
August 28, 2008: Barack Obama accepted the democratic nomination for president, making history as the first African American major party presidential candidate.
“DuVernay also mentioned that it was around August 28th of this year (2016) when San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick delivered his first official remarks on why he decided to protest the national anthem,” according to HuffPost.
Today and every day, we honor and remember the importance of August 28 in U.S. history.