Mark Vinzant

A boy of mixed Black and White races in predominantly Black and Hispanic Richmond, California, as a nine-year old I faced a pivotal moment that revealed, at once, a strong trait of will and gave birth to an indomitable moral determination to influence social change. Through the compelling tools of narrative and the visual power of documentary film, I re-live that child’s experience now as a filmmaker: shaking with unutterable fear, poised on the edge of a two-story high gymnasium roof, swiping away sweat and tears from my eyes and faced with a bitter choice—leap, or be thrown. Forced onto the roof by a taunting group of students who were closing in to hurl me to the ground two stories below, I chose to leap. I have been leaping ever since. Although I landed on the ground that day, in an agony of shattered bones, I knew thereafter my power both to act and to face the challenge of transforming “the way things are.”

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