After we released the Racist Roots website in the fall of 2020, we knew that wasn’t the end. We wanted this project to thrive and grow. We wanted as many people as possible to understand the racist roots of North Carolina’s death penalty — and to join us in the movement to end it. That’s why, with the help of Paper Plus Rocket, we created the film version of Racist Roots.
This powerful 25-minute film reveals the North Carolina death penalty’s deep entanglement with slavery, lynching, and racism — and inspires people to join the movement to transform the criminal legal system. It includes the stories and voices of advocates, artists, exonerees, and people on North Carolina’s death row. It is a key tool as we strive to educate the public about the injustices of the death penalty and end this cruel punishment. Please help us share it!
This film covers hundreds of years of history, some of it deeply disturbing. Whether you watch the film alone or in a group, we suggest that you take a few minutes to breathe and absorb the information. A few suggested questions for reflection:
- Before you watch the film, spend a few moments reflecting on what you already know, feel, and believe about the death penalty. After you’ve watched, what in the film confirmed what you already thought and why? Were there parts of the film that challenged your beliefs?
- How does your own racial identity and life experience influence how you see this film?
- Which of the stories in the film surprised you or made you feel something? Why?
- Why does what happened decades or even centuries ago matter to the modern death penalty? And why is ending the death penalty a key part of reforming our state’s criminal legal system?
- Now that you have this information, what do you plan to do? Who will you share it with? What actions will you take? (Some possible answers are below.)
Help spread the message of Racist Roots
If you’d like to request a facilitated screening and discussion of the Racist Roots film for your organization or community group, please contact Kristin Collins, email@example.com. (If you host your own screening, please consider collecting the email addresses of people who are interested in joining the movement to abolish the death penalty. If you contact us afterward, we are happy to help them learn how to get involved.)
Download a Racist Roots fact sheet to print or share.
Download an illustrated transcript of the film.
Get plugged in to the grassroots movement led by the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. CDPL is a member of this powerful organization that is committed to ending the racist death penalty.
Donate to CDPL to help us continue to spread the message of Racist Roots and represent people facing execution.
Learn more about the death penalty nationwide. If you live outside North Carolina, please get involved with local organizations fighting for racial justice, abolition of the death penalty, and a reimagined justice system. If you need help identifying a local group, contact us:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com