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Within the last 20 years, there have only been a few major movies or documentaries that give any insight into life at Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCU’s). While films such as Drumline, Stomp the Yard, and Homecoming are Black culture staples, it’s time that the source material be given their flowers. Since their inception in the 1800’s HBCU’s have birthed revolutions and educated some of the most influential public figures.

Executive Producer, Codie Elaine Oliver

On March 9, 2021 Deadline reported that Stephen A. Smith has teamed with Propogate & Confluential Films on a docu-series detailing the legacy and influence of HBCU’s. The series will be called Black Excellence and directed by Codie Elaine Oliver. The series will show the impact of these institutions across politics, entertainment, and athletics including original interviews with successful alumni including Stacey Abhrams, Spike Lee, and many others. Stephen A. Smith, an HBCU grad himself said that, “When I went to an HBCU, I was surrounded by people who looked like me, who shared my cultural identity, shared my challenges, my trials and tribulations, I didn’t feel alone…you had people who held you accountable but they did so because they cared so much about uplifting you and making sure that you shine, so when it’s all said and done, No. 1, you can be successful, and No. 2, you can be in a position that I am today where you can shine a light on the challenges we face, highlighting, articulating, and illuminating why that is and then you can move forward and push an agenda to showcase the talent that comes out of HBCU’s and what we are truly capable of.”

Executive Producer, Codie Elaine Oliver stated, “I am a 4th generation HBCU graduate and it’s an honor to be able to tell this story and put into perspective HBCU’s contributions to all of American life.”

The series will also show the rush of recent donations from celebrities and their significance.

After winning the annual celebrity basketball game during All-Star Weekend, rapper and Kentucky native Jack Harlow announced that he will be donating his winnings to two HBCU’s in Kentucky, Simmons College of Kentucky and Kentucky State University. Migos rapper Quavo said he also plans to donate his winnings to Clark Atlanta University and Spellman College. Donations such as these and like Mackenzie Scott who donated between $20-50 million to more than 30 colleges last year are essential to the growth of these renowned colleges and universities.

Propogate founder and co-CEO Howard T. Owens said, “We are pleased to partner with Mr. SAS Productions and Confluential Films to shine the proper spotlight on their legacy of Black excellence. It’s time we tell these important and compelling stories…We can’t wait for the world to fall in love with this project and HBCU’s the way we all have.”

While waiting for Black Excellence, Tell Them We Are Rising documentary, was released in 2017 directed by Stanley Nelson Sr and Marco Williams also shows how trailblazing these institutions are. This documentary takes the audience back to the beginning and details the history and the struggle of Black men and women getting a worthwhile education and leads into the growth of the illustrious institutions that we have today. Any student who attends and graduates from any college or university is inherently proud of the work and dedication they have put into their respected degree, but after last summer’s full resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests and the demand for representation across every board, the pride and knowledge of self that comes with being a part of HBCU alumni is incomparable and definitely something that should be learned from.

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Marissa Zeno

Marissa Zeno

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