KingMakers of Oakland

“KingMakers of Oakland” is the story of the nation’s first school district to launch a classroom curriculum taught exclusively by African American male teachers for African American male students. ABOUT THE SERIES: Kingmakers of Oakland is an inspiring 9-part docu-series that explore the short history, challenges, triumphs, and five-year road to sustainability and success of the Office of African American Male Achievement Program (AAMA) in the Oakland Unified School District, which was the first program in the nation to embed a culturally-centered curriculum to help close the educational achievement gap for African American boys. The film documents AAMA’s work to addresses the needs of the district’s most vulnerable children: black boys, who have stubbornly remained at the bottom of nearly every academic indicator, including high school graduation rates in most states, according to the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

The series includes nine stand-alone, 12-min episodes that also work as a connected series to document the historic program. Audiences witness the personal and emotional journeys of the characters overcoming major obstacles (i.e., structural racism in the school system, social and economic barriers, family dysfunction, etc.) to reframe the narrative about Black male achievement. The documentary introduces an entirely new paradigm and narrative for transformational educational leadership by and for males of African descent.

The documentary follows the lives of key characters over the episodes, including the leadership, the facilitators, and the Kings (students). Each episode will follow a theme that connects to the overall narrative, which essentially is “it takes a Black man to help a Black boy become a Black man.”

These are meditations on mentoring, masculinity, accountability, race, culture, spirit, family, transformation, and love. The story is revealed in compelling, reality-style docu-vignettes and personal testimonies. As the story evolves over the school year, the authentic voices of the young Black men are what you will remember most. Their journey to manhood is what will become a blueprint for other school districts across the country.

The series was a 2016 Official Selection of the American Black Film Festival.
Directed & Produced by Cheo Tyehimba Taylor; Co-Produced and Principal Cinematography by ShakaJamal; Edited by Judd Flemming; Co-Editor: Carlo Kamin. Eight episodes. Film series produced for OUSD Office of Equity and Oakland Public Education Fund.