Synopsis

Talking Black in America follows the unique circumstances of the descendants of American slaves and their incredible impact on American life and language. Speech varieties from the African American community reflect the imprint of African language systems, the influences of regional British and Southern American dialects, and the creativity and resilience of people living through oppression, segregation and the fight for equality. Filmed across the United States, Talking Black in America is a startling revelation of language as legacy, identity and triumph over adversity. With Reverend Jeremiah Wright, DJ Nabs, Professor Griff, Quest M.C.O.D.Y., Dahlia the Poet, Nicky Sunshine and many others.

 

“The status of African American speech has been controversial for more than a half-century now, suffering from persistent public misunderstanding, linguistic profiling, and language-based discrimination. We wanted to address that and, on a fundamental level, make clear that understanding African American speech is absolutely critical to understanding the way we talk today.”
-Walt Wolfram

 

“African-American language is central to American life, yet it continues to be widely misunderstood and marginalized. A new documentary from the Language and Life Project at NC State draws on decades of research to remedy our understanding.”
– NC State News

 
 

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Producers

 

NEAL HUTCHESON

PRODUCER / DIRECTOR

An Emmy Award winning producer of cultural documentaries whose work has been featured on PBS, Discovery, History, A&E, Documentary Channel and Sundance. His films include The Last One, Coresounders, and First Language.

DANICA CULLINAN

PRODUCER / DIRECTOR

An Emmy Award winning producer of cultural documentaries whose work has been featured on PBS. Her films include Spanish Voices, Cedars in the Pines, and First Language.

WALT WOLFRAM

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Distinguished Professor at NC State University, a world leader in sociolinguistic research and publications, and the Director of the Language & Life Project at NC State University (LLP). Through the LLP Wolfram has facilitated numerous television documentaries, audio compilations, and other publications.

JOHN BAUGH

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences. Washington University in St. Louis. Baugh has pioneered research in a number of descriptive and applications in African American English, and has led the examination of housing discrimination and linguistic profiling.

RENÉE BLAKE

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Associate Professor of Linguistics, New York University. Blake’s research examines language contact, race, ethnicity and class with a focus on African American English, Caribbean English Creoles and New York City English.

PATRICIA CUKOR-AVILA

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Professor of Linguistics and Technical Communication, University of North Texas. Cukor-Avila has conducted formative research on rural African American English in Texas and the differences between urban and rural speech in the South.

LISA GREEN

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Professor of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Green’s research focuses on the formal structure of African American English and the acquisition of language by African American children.

SONJA LANEHART

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Breckenridge Endowed Chair in Literature and Humanities, University of Texas at San Antonio. Lanehart specializes in the study of English literature and linguistics, humanities, education and African-American studies.

SALIKOKO MUFWENE

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Frank J McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Linguistics and Humanities Collegiate Division, University of Chicago.  Professor Mufwene has a distinguished research career in the study of Gullah and is also an expert in the ecology of language change.

JEFFREY REASER

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Associate Professor, English, North Carolina State University. Reaser has pioneered research and application on dialect diversity in public education and is the Director of the Teacher Education Program in English at NC State University.

JOHN RICKFORD

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities, Stanford University. Rickford has an extensive research and applied experience in both creole languages and African American English.

CHANTI SEYMOUR

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Associate Professor, the School of English Studies at the College of the Bahamas. Professor Seymour is an expert in the study of Bahamian English and its educational and social status in the Bahamas.

JOHN SINGLER

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Professor of Linguistics, NYU. Singler has conducted extensive research on Liberian English and its relationship to English in the African American diaspora.

ARTHUR SPEARS

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Professor of Linguistics, Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY). Professor Spears is a specialist in African American English and pidgins and creoles, as well as race and ideology.

TRACEY WELDON

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Associate Professor, University of South Carolina. Weldon has conducted research on Gullah in South Carolina, and currently examines language use among middle-class African Americans.