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The Big Payback” documentary to host national reparations debate at Bennett College and other HBCUs across the U.S.


Color Farm Media, the team behind the documentary film “The Big Payback,” will be partnering with HBCUs to hold a series of National Reparations Debates, inspired by the historic 1965 James Baldwin-William Buckley debate. The debates will unite the most brilliant student thinkers in a face-off at America’s universities and colleges debating one of the greatest questions of the 21st century.

The initiative will kick off with a pilot debate at Bennett College in Greensboro on Monday January 30, at 1 p.m. with confirmed debate coaches including: Erika Alexander, Rev. William Barber and Joy Reid.

Color Farm Media co-founder, Erika Alexander, who co-directed “The Big Payback” with filmmaker, Whitney Dow, will open the debate with an address to the Bennett College students about the importance and power of debate and healthy conversation around challenging issues.

The first phase of the initiative will incorporate 110 HBCUs in North Carolina. They are:

  • Bennett College (Greensboro)
  • Shaw University (Raleigh)
  • St. Augustine’s University (Raleigh)
  • Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte)
  • Fayetteville State University (Fayetteville)
  • Livingstone College (Salisbury)
  • North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro)
  • Elizabeth City State University (Elizabeth City)
  • Winston-Salem State University (Winston-Salem)
  • North Carolina Central University (Durham)

Joy Reid.
Future phases of the initiative will expand to include debates at both HBCUs and non-HBCUs across the United States.

The event series is partnering with Ben & Jerry’s, who will be on location at every North Carolina HBCU event disseminating social impact materials and scooping a special, unique flavor of ice cream in honor of “The Big Payback” film, called “Reparations Now! Root Beer Floats.”

“The Big Payback” made its broadcast premiere on INDEPENDENT LENS on PBS on January 16, 2023, and is currently streaming for free on the PBS app and online at INDEPENDENT LENS.

About “The Big Payback”

In the summer of 2019, rookie Illinois Alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons ushered in the first legislation of its kind in the United States: Resolution 126-R-19, which devoted funds to local reparations for Black residents in Evanston, Illinois. “The Big Payback” follows Simmons as she leads the community in the uphill battle to obtain reparations—payments meant to correct for the historic systematic bias inflicted upon descendants of African American slaves. The film is co-directed by Erika Alexander (“Living Single,” “John Lewis: Good Trouble”) and Whitney Dow (“Two Towns of Jasper,” “Whiteness Project”).