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Documentary over fight for Black equality in Grand Rapids could wrap up by this Spring


During a Q&A with community members, production leaders shared themes and insights of the upcoming film, giving a rough timeline for completion.

Filming is well underway for Grand Stand Picture’s feature-length documentary of “A City within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids.” The film, based on the 2012 book by Dr. Todd Robinson, examines the civil rights movement in the North, concentrating on the fight for equality in Grand Rapids.

“We’re telling this story as people who love Grand Rapids and who acknowledge that disparities are real, race is real, and the challenges that we face in this community are real,” Rodney Brown, producer and secretary with Grand Stand Pictures said.

As an author, Robinson said he was approached by a handful of other production companies to feature his book in visual form. He ultimately found common ground with Grand Stand Pictures, saying he felt “they were different” and is now working alongside filmmakers on the documentary.

“These are not our stories. They belong to the community. They belong to the people and as we did with the book, as I did with the book we’re trying to do so in film,” Robinson, who is involved with the project, explained.

About a dozen people ushered into the Wealthy Theatre Community Media Center annex building on Monday as the production team gathered for a Q&A with local residents. Serving on the panel were Dr. Robinson, Jason Nichols (Director), Will Rouse (Cinematographer).

Fielding questions about issues like redlining and managerial racism, Nichols assured the audience the documentary would tell as full a story as it could, citing themes of social innovation and the effects of racism.

“This is not the stories of victims. People have been victimized, but they are not victims. What’s so important for us to convey in this story is that as they have faced obstacles they have not just accepted the obstacles,” Nichols said.

When asked when the film would be finished, Nichols said he hopes to wrap up production in the Spring.

Robinson told Monday’s audience he is working on a sequel to his 2012 book.

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