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American Experience presents 'Stonewall Uprising' (2010, UR, 83 m.)
In 1969, homosexuality was illegal in almost every state. That was about to change.
When I was asked to submit a write-up of Stonewall Uprising, an upcoming episode of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary series “American Experience,” premiering on Monday, April 25, 2011, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. CT, I was eager to view the new documentary.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. The raid sparked three nights of rioting, June 28-30. The Stonewall riots, as the event came to be known, was a fascinating event in American history and a pivotal moment in the fight for full equality for all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Some activists and historians credit the event as the start of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement. While not everybody agrees with that assessment, there is little argument, as noted by Martin Boyce, who was there and was interviewed for the documentary, “It was another great step forward in the story of human rights.”
The June 1969 watershed moment has been the subject of past documentaries, most notably Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community (1984), which was followed 15 years later by After Stonewall (1999). It’s also the focus of at least one fictional feature film, Stonewall (1995).
This newest documentary gets it title from an astute observation by Howard Smith, Reporter for The Village Voice, a publication located just a few doors from the Stonewall Inn. He was there and notes, “It really should have been called ‘Stonewall uprising.’ They really were objecting to how they were being treated. That’s more an uprising than a riot.”
For those not familiar with the PBS documentary series, here’s the press kit description of “American Experience”…
"Television’s most-watched history series, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been hailed as “peerless” (Wall Street Journal), “the most consistently enriching program on television” (Chicago Tribune), and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” (Houston Chronicle). On air and online, the series brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present. Acclaimed by viewers and critics alike, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including fourteen George Foster Peabody Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards, and twenty-seven Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy Awards, one most recently in Outstanding Directing Nonfiction for My Lai."