The Story of

Black Colleges

& Universities



A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries—and path of promise toward the American dream—Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told. Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture, and national identity. Beginning with the earliest attempts at education to today’s campuses, the 90-minute documentary film will air nationally on the acclaimed PBS series, Independent Lens on Monday, February 19, 2018 at 9pm ET.

About the Director, Stanley Nelson

Director Stanley Nelson is known for examining the history and experiences of African Americans. His most notable films are The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Freedom Riders, Freedom Summer, Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life & Death of People’s Temple, and The Murder of Emmett Till. His latest film, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, making it his ninth festival premiere, more than any other nonfiction filmmaker. With multiple industry awards, a National Humanities medal and MacArthur “genius” award to his credit, Nelson is acknowledged as one of the premier documentary filmmakers working today. His company, Firelight Media is a non-profit production company, which provides technical education and professional support to emerging documentarians and expands the reach and impact of nonfiction film.


Join WFSU for this free event located on FAMU's campus.


Screening Info

Through a collaboration between public media stations and historically Black colleges and universities, Firelight Films and WFSU Public Media will present a screening of the film on FAMU's campus in January. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the creative team, university leaders, prominent alumni, and other invited guests to talk about the important issues explored in the documentary.

Date: Friday, January 26th at 7pm
Lee Hall Auditorium on Florida A & M University Campus
1601 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Following the documentary, there will be a panel discussion from 8:30 to 9:00 pm featuring film director, Stanley Nelson, Florida A&M President, Larry Robinson, Florida A&M Associate Professor of History, Reginald Ellis, and moderator, WFSU Public Media News Director, Lynn Hatter. There will then be a question and answer session from 9:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

The screening is free and open to the public – registration required.

Preview the film.


The panel discussion will focus on the film and FAMU's role in the future of historically black colleges and universities. It will be moderated by WFSU Public Media's FM News Director, Lynn Hatter.

On February 19 at 10:30 pm ET, this discussion, titled "FAMUly Rising," will broadcast on WFSU Public Media. It will also be available to view online. Stay tuned to WFSU Public Media's Local Routes for more FAMU stories on this topic throughout the month of Feburary.


The past and the present can be found on this digital archive of stories and photos. FAMU and other HBCU students, alumni and faculty are asked to look through their photo albums and their smart phones to share their memories of their unique HBCU experiences.