Exploring Intersections/Transcript: The Long Walk to Freedom”
In preparation for this discussion, you Read two movie transcripts below. In these films transcripts, there are a number of different groups and ethical issues discussed. This discussion will focus on what you learned by watching these films.
The following points list your instructions for participating in this discussion:
1. After having reading the two films transcript below and noting themes related to diversity and ethics, take the two of the films transcripts below you found the most interesting and write a post that compares and contrasts the two films transcripts in your opinion. Here are your post content guidelines:
a. Who are the disenfranchised groups?
b. What are the differences and similarities between the groups?
c. What are the ethical issues that arise for both?
d. How are the ethical issues similar or different?
e. If the filmmakers suggested a solution, how are the solutions in each film different or the same? If no solutions are recommended, what would you propose? If one solution is recommended, what works or does not work, and what might you recommend for the film without a solution?
2. Write your post in 275-300 words.
Transcript: The Long Walk to Freedom”
The Long Walk to Freedom , directed by Weidlinger, T., produced by Morgan, R. (Bullfrog Films 2004).
Movie Transcript below
Narrator This is about 12 ordinary young people who helped change history.
Narrator They came from different racial and economic backgrounds, but they all shared the conviction that racial oppression is wrong.
Narrator Together with thousands of other Americans they joined the Civil Rights Movement to protest racial discrimination in the 1960’s .
Narrator These Civil Rights veterans visited with students at George Washington High School in San Francisco to share with them their first hand experiences. The students responded with questions, creative writing and a video project. At the heart of this exchange between students and season activist is the conviction that each new generation must find its own footing on the long walk to freedom. The ongoing struggle for a just, a free, and a compassionate society.
01:40 THE LONG WALK TO FREEDOM A COMMUNITY WORKS PROJECT THE WAY IT WAS CECIL WILLIAMS Activist & Minister
Cecil Williams I came up in a family that was very warm. We felt with each other. We embrace each other. We touched each other, then we sang with each other. We were always in to something that built what I would call community.
Cecil Williams I couldn’t understand why when we got in the White community, there were such a difference than what it was in that African-American community. I had a breakdown when I was 12-years old, a minimum breakdown. Ah, let me put it in very crude terms. I went crazy, okay and, and, and the reason I did was I never could understand why I was told to go, get in the back of the bus. I was told that I could not go to certain stores in San Angelo , and purchase clothes to try them on.
03:15 WAZIR PEACOCK Activist
Wazir Peacock I was about six grade when we moved to the plantation and that’s when I first got an experience of which slavery was like. Slavery was suppose to be old but it wasn’t, that’s what sharecropping is like. And a lot of people are malnourished. There was a lot of ah, infant mortality and there was no running water, and sometimes people whoever had eight to ten children and they’re all sleeping in the same room. You didn’t dream of having your own bed. Poverty had been created in their mind. They had a poverty, poor, slavery mentality themselves and ah, this had been pressed upon them. Ah, they were afraid to breakout of that because they don’t want the White men to think that they would trying to be a pity Negroes cause a pity Negroes have head been hung just for being different like they would trying to be as good as the White men so to speak.
04:25 ROBERT ALLEN Activist, Writer & Editor
Robert Allen I could not use the main public library in Atlanta because it was reserved for White people. No Blacks should come in to the main public library.
04:35 PHILIP HUTCHINGS Student Activist
Philip Hutchings It’s like there was total segregation, so there were dive stores where if we wanted to come in at the most we could do is maybe buy a hotdog in the back. Couldn’t come in, couldn’t sit down just buy a hotdog in the back. If we wanted to go to a movie well, you can only go on Saturday. And if you went on Saturday, you had to sit up in the balcony. The rest of the week is for White people and White people could always sit down on the main floor so, it was like throwing it in our face.
05:10 WHY WE GOT INVOLVED JANET CLINGER Volunteer, Congress of Racial Equality
Janet Clinger I began to realize that all the freedoms that I took for granted were not guaranteed for everybody in this country. So it change the direction of my life. I realize that nothing would stay the same, people couldn’t stay the same.
06:00 CARLOS MUÑOZ Co-Founder, Chicano Civil Rights Movement
Carlos Muñoz I happened to hear Dr. King ah, on television and I got inspired. And then I started to say, “My God! You know, I mean there’s Black people in this country who are American citizens who can’t vote?” And I was in Korea in the army fighting for democracy. It didn’t make sense to me, I didn’t learn these in school.
06:20 Negro Youth, 15, Kidnapped, Slain In Mississippi
Robert Allen But one of the things that really impacted me and change me permanently was the lynching of Emmett Till . He came down to Mississippi to visit some relatives there. And while he was there, he was brutally murdered and his body butchered and thrown in the river, why? He whistled at a White woman and for this he lost his life. As I saw in Jet Magazine a picture of Emmett Till and I realize, this could have been me, he’s my age.
06:55 MATT HERRON Photojournalist
Matt Herron The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was ah, blown up by the Klan. Killing four little girls who were in the basement where the bomb was placed. Three weeks earlier I had been in that church with my family en route to Jackson . So, that bombing were had a very personal message for me that could have happened three weeks before and my children would have been dead.
07:25 FRANCES M. BEAL Founder, SNCC Black Women’s Liberation Committee
Frances M. Beal I was very much afraid. When you went out in terms of demonstrations people would spit on you, they would throw stones at you, they would jeer at you, they call you a Nigger.
Wazir Peacock We were doing what we knew was right, and when you are right and you get your mind made up, there’s nothing, there’s no force on earth they can stop you, nothing.
Wazir Peacock It’s a human thing about treating people everybody like human beings.
Janet Clinger Black people had to stand outside and wait for the bus, they couldn’t go into the cafe and eat. The Whites wouldn’t let them and they had tried to integrate that bus station before and it had always failed. So we did and we got in, we sat down and ah, of course the waitress came over and ah, you know, you could tell they were really angry and we, we were an integrated group and ah, she walks up to our table and she said, “Ah, I wanna tell you, we don’t serve Negroes in here.” And these young guy, Louis, sitting next to me he says, “Do you know what? I didn’t order one.”
09:40 YURI KOCHIYAMA Community Activist
Yuri Kochiyama Well, the next thing was the fight for construction workers for Black and Puerto Ricans. And everyday about 200 people would be there and so, mostly what we did was everybody took turns in sitting before the trucks that were bringing in the cement, it was my first arrest.
10:10 Philip Hutchings And then, I remember there was one girl there who said, “Let us just get arrested.”
Philip Hutchings Of course, the police came out and they wanted to grab us and we started singing louder and louder and louder. And lot of people locked arms, yeah. Here we are now sitting on the ground and were just singing, it was just singing and the cop are trying to pull us apart.
Matt Herron The Civil Rights Organizations which have been attempting to break the back of segregation in Jackson had practically run out of demonstrators, they had filled the jails and the city was now use in the cattle stockade, the county fear grounds. So, they changed tactics instead of having mass preannounce demonstrations, they had little guerilla demonstrations of three or four people. As I passed the Governor’s Mansion, I noticed a woman and her children sitting on the sidesteps had turned out to be Mrs. Aileen Quinn from Calhoun, Mississippi and as I arrived, the police arrived. Anthony , Mrs. Quinn’s 5-year-old was carrying an American flag, a potent symbol of adherence to the laws of the United States which are anti to equal rights for everyone. So the policeman was collecting these flags and as he grab for the little boy’s flag his mother said, ” Anthony , don’t you let that man take your flag.” And the policeman went berserk.
Matt Herron The background to these is that about a month before the Klan had fire burn Mrs. Quinn’s home and Anthony Quinn was sleeping in the front bedroom. So at five, her youngest child was already a veteran of the Civil Rights struggle.
12:30 Carlos Muñoz The Civil Rights movement opened my mind, opened my eyes and then, I started thinking about, you know what? We also need a Civil Rights Movement in the southwest where Mexicans lived because we don’t have one, so I became one of the founders of our own Civil Rights Movement called the Chicano Movement. I helped to organize nonviolent protest in the schools, like this one.
Carlos Muñoz I feel very strongly that we had a racist education, that we were not being taught critical thinking skills to make it to college.
Carlos Muñoz And were not being taught our own history, our own culture, who we were, where we came from and more importantly what we as a people had contributed to the making of this nation. So we took to the streets in 1968 , we did our own Selma, Alabama in East Los Angeles . Ten thousand high school students walked out of schools, all of the barrio ghetto schools in the east side of Los Angeles . And we made headlines that first time in the history of this country that Mexicans, any Latino had follow to footsteps of the Civil Rights Movement in this country in the south.
13:55 WOMEN IN THE MOVEMENT
Frances M. Beal Once you start to talk about freedom you cannot put bars on it. Just as we were rejecting White supremacy, we brought with us into the movement all of the prejudices and all of the assumptions from the outside society. And one of those assumptions was that the girls would be typing the speeches and the boys would be giving the speeches. In other words, there was a definite gender discrimination. And so in some of these discussions you know your talking about freedom, liberation, what is gonna be like not to have discrimination. There was a contradiction. We said, “Well wait a minute here. How can you talk about having White people not discriminate against us and then you turn around and discriminate against women?” They said, “That’s white women’s stuff.” The most important thing is race, gender is a secondary type of issue and you know it took a long time but we eventually we’re able to win over the brothers to the concept that you couldn’t call yourself a revolutionary if in anyway you wanted to be prejudice or discriminatory against women.
15:20 FEAR AND SONG BETTIE MAE FIKES Freedom Singer
Bettie Mae Fikes What do you want?
Bettie Mae Fikes What do you want?
16:10 Bettie Mae Fikes And when do you want it?
Bettie Mae Fikes Are you willing to fight for it? Are you willing to die for it? That’s the way we had to get pumped up, to go out, to protest.
16:20 Philip Hutchings We were really in a, in a climate of total fear and we had to basically pumped ourselves up not to be afraid and the only thing that we really had was each other.
16:40 JON FROMER Freedom Singer & Activist
Jon Fromer Anyway you could ah, I tell you that just keep my legs moving and my mind was gone but my legs were moving to the rhythm of that song. We got there and here you had the whole line of police and they all had guns and clubs.
17:20 Bettie Mae Fikes Dogs was turned loose on us. Hose, fireman’s hose, do you know the power of fireman’s hose? Can you just imagine in your mind?
17:40 ELEANOR WALDEN Freedom Singer
Eleanor Walden And we drove through Mississippi and this car pulls along side somebody sticks a shotgun out of the window, and I’m driving, huh, and again like, like Jon was saying I guess, I didn’t have the sense to be scared because this was, this was part of, this was the piece of the pie that, that I took on.
18:05 Carlos Muñoz I remember that day, that night, that morning, I remember going to jail. I remember you know ah, being told by a police, “we’re gonna give you a chance to run,” okay, and I know full well what that meant, they want me to run and they will take target practice, you know, and I keep my cool and I didn’t run instead I put my hands behind me and I said, “Put the cuffs on.” And that’s what they did. I never forget that moment, in that moment to me represents a lot more than just my own, my own moment. It had to do with the fact that there were hundreds even minimum of thousands more young men and women going to the same experience.
18:45 Cecil Williams But they arrested us and ah, that night they threw us in jail. They didn’t have enough room for all of us, so they decided that they would take us to a gym. And they locked us up in the gym and we sang all night long. And they couldn’t understand how we being locked up could sing all night long and rap and talk again engage each other and have such a great time together. But we did it and finally they came about six o’clock that morning and said, “We gonna let you out because you all, there’s something wrong with you people, you know, you, you really don’t and, and all of them had cigars in them, all of that officers had cigars, billy clubs, and guns all that kind of stuff, you know. And they just stood there, shook their heads, they could not fathom how we would be so ah, engaging that we did not di-, dissipate, we did not ah, disappear ah, that we just keep pushing.
19:50 Martin Luther King In all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying we ain’t go and let nobody turn us around.
Philip Hutchings And some of us actually believed in nonviolence as a philosophy and some of us didn’t believed in nonviolence as a philosophy but they saw it as a tactic. It was actually useful, it worked.
20:40 Frances M. Beal We were also very well-trained, we didn’t just like go to a demonstration. We had workshops in nonviolence ah, how to protect ourselves when they started hitting you. So, this created a level of discipline amongst people that you could actually overcome your fear for a larger objective.
21:00 March on Washington 1963
It’s defiance without violence, a classic example of passive resistance taken from Mahatma Gandhi . Montgomery’s Gandhi is the Reverend, Martin Luther King , leader of the boycott.
21:15 Martin Luther King All in favor let it be known by standing on your feet.
Martin Luther King When that moment comes, go into the situations that we confront with a great deal of dignity, sanity and reasonableness.
21:40 Philip Hutchings We’re marching into a demonstration and all of a sudden we see a policemen on horses with billy clubs coming to us and they’re marching and we had to keep marching, we couldn’t stop.
21:55 Robert Allen We were up against the people who were wanted to hurt us in some way. And basically try to turn us around but they were cowards. They didn’t actually wanna kill us because they knew then, they would have problems and so, what we did was we called them on their own cowardice.
22:05 You can turn you back on me but you cannot turn your back upon the idea of justice.
22:10 Philip Hutchings They would slink away that for all that bravado, for all of their racial epithets that standing up to them with dignity and courage made them fearful.
22:25 GETTING OUT THE VOTE
Wherever, by clear and objective standards, states and counties are using regulations or laws or tests, to deny the right to vote then they will be struck down.
22:40 Matt Herron The Voting Rights Acts of 1965 allowed the government to intervene in ah, districts in the South where they could show that Blacks had been systematically denied the right to register and vote.
22:55 Janet Clinger And we were there to get people register to vote which sounds very easy. Go door to door and say, “Would you like to register to vote Ma’am?” But it was a little more difficult than that.
23:05 Matt Herron It was a tough sell. There were lots of things that happen to Black folks in Mississippi who have the courage to register to vote. Sometimes their houses were burned, they were beaten up, they lost their jobs. So, people were very reluctant to do it and they were making decisions based on personal courage.
Philip Hutchings And so, part of being in a Civil Rights Movement is to learn how to actually talked to people. We basically had to find ways to encourage folks to struggle and to fight the fear.
23:55 And there were a group of families who were willing to stand up and say, “Were gonna be a part of this.” And that to me was extreme bravery.
24:05 THE LONG WALK Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights March 1965
Matt Herron This was a real people’s march. It was lead by Civil Rights leaders but the, the march was done by ordinary people walking from their own convictions that just had that feel to it. I joined it from the first day and I had a, a knapsack and I, I determined that I was going to march every step of the way, by taking pictures. A lot of people had blisters and they just went on. It rained, it was cold, it was not an easy thing to do and people didn’t care they just went on.
Matt Herron The sight of the march, the, the image of hundreds and hundreds of Black people joined by White people marching through rural Alabama . I mean people came out to take a look at us in astonishment. Ah, and you could see it in the faces of people watching the march. It’s almost like these people were holding a mirrors as we went by. We could see ourselves in their eyes.
Matt Herron Everyday more and more people came until finally, the numbers are overwhelming, masses of people march into Montgomery . Thousands and thousands and thousands, they just fill the streets many change people and I think the Civil Rights Movement sort of gain that momentum and you felt like it was rolling and at the end of the march you just felt like this was unstoppable.
Wazir Peacock You have to participate in your own destiny you can’t wait for it to happen. It doesn’t matter how hard, or how dangerous it is, at some point if you were to survive you have to participate in your own goals, in your own destiny. And then, you don’t bet on it but most of the time help comes.
27:45 Cecil Williams And I think the thing that happens. The reason I keep doing it, is because every time we do something, there’s some difference that occurs. The issues get heighten and they flow and, and you just have to look at it and respond to it and say, “That’s where I’m going and that’s what I’m gonna do.” Again, it is to make life more human. To make people more human.
28:15 Written, Directed & Edited by TOM WEIDLINGER Produced by RUTH MORGAN Civil Rights Activists ROBERT ALLEN FRANCES M. BEAL JANET CLINGER BETTIE MAE FIKES JON FROMER MATT HERRON PHILIP HUTCHINGS YURI KOCHIYAMA CARLOS MUÑOZ, JR. WAZIR PEACOCK ELEANOR WALDEN REVEREND CECIL WILLIAMS Photographs MATT HERRON Courtesy, Take Stock Photos Sound KIP BROWN WES MCLEAN Film & Exhibition Graphics JAN CAMP Original Music ED BOGAS Narration and Song I Belong to This Band MARSHA THOMAS-COOKE Additional Archive Film and Photos LIBRARY OF CONGRESS JON FROMER JESUS TREVINO Community Works Artists ALISSA BLACKMAN TOM WEIDLINGER Thanks to the Students of GEORGE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL Teachers TERRI CAMAJANI GEOFF DIESEL Funding for THE LONG WALK TO FREEDOM CAaRTs California Arts Council Sam and Mary Mills Fund Walter and Elise Haas Foundation & Individual Donors Traveling Exhibition Supported by AMTRAK A MOIRA PRODUCTIONS FILM For COMMUNITY WORKS/ CALIFORNIA © 2003 , Community Works/ California To purchase a DVD or a videocassette of THE LONG WALK TO FREEDOM visit www.long-walk.com
Jon Fromer Thank you.
Movie Transcript below:
Confronting Discrimination and Prejudice.
Deep in the heart of Texas at this little roadside bakery, bigotry is being served with a coffee and danish.
Sir, I have a question.
No, ma’am. We don’t serve Muslims here.
This is America. We’re at war with your people.
I don’t know what you think I am. I’m just trying an —
Well you’re a terrorist, is what you are. S0–
You gotta take your business elsewhere. We don’t serve your kind here.
The other customers at this bakery near Waco seem to hear everything. But they barely look at the Muslim woman, even when the language is tough to take.
Get back on the camel, and go back wherever you came from.
Sir, I’m an American. I was born and raised in this country.
No you’re not. Americans don’t wear towels on their head.
Muslim Americans say these are words they hear all the time, in all parts of the country. But here at the bakery, what the customers don’t know is that this Muslim woman and the man behind the counter are actors. The bakery is working with us, all part of a primetime hidden camera experiment on prejudice and patriotism.
Please take your business elsewhere. Am I asking too much?
When no one even tries to help her, she makes a direct appeal.
Sir, wold you mind ordering me an apple strudel. That’s why I’m here.
I can give you the money. I have no problem doing that.
That’s not a problem.
Please, no, sir.
I’m not going to let you order.
But when he gives her the cold shoulder, she finally just leaves.
You could have helped her out, you could have spoken up. Why not?
Me speak up for her? Well if he had tried to do some harm to her or something, then I would have.
But why not try to set him straight?
I really think that person who owns his own business should be able to say who they sell to.
She’s not American.
Others seem to agree with our actor as to who’s an American, and who’s not. Is it all based on the way we look?
I’m an American citizen. I just would like an apple strudel, please.
Well I’m sorry. Then why don’t you dress like an American if you’re so American?
This is for religious purposes, sir. I don’t think you have any right to say–
So? I’m religious and I don’t wear Halloween costumes around. Am I wrong here, sir?
Not me, no.
I run my business the way I want.
That’s right, don’t come in here without shoes or shirt on.
This customer is adamant that the man behind the counter is doing the right thing. But the fact is it’s against the law to deny service to someone based on their race or religion. My name is John Quinones and I’m with ABC News. What did you think of what you heard here?
I didn’t hear anything racist.
He told her he wouldn’t serve her.
Well he can say he wouldn’t serve you if you come in here barefoot or without a shirt on.
But she wasn’t barefoot or without a shirt on.
Well, she wasn’t dressed right.
What do you mean?
If I’d run this place, I’d do the same thing.
You wouldn’t let Muslims shop at your store?
I sure wouldn’t.
We never expected customers to be so candid.
How do I know you don’t have a bomb in there?
Watch what happens this time when, once again, our Muslim woman is denied service.
This is not right.
And again leaves.
We reserve the right to not serve–
That’s right. That’s right. I appreciate seeing that. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that.
He not only commends the man behind the counter for his discriminatory behavior, but he gives him the thumbs up– not once, but twice.
As he leaves.
Can I talk to you sir, for a second?
But when I approach–
Sir, we’re with ABC News.
There was no thumbs up for me.
We staged a little experiment in there to see how people would react to that kind of attitude.
You’re not an American.
I am an American.
That man took it a bit farther, telling me I’m not an American.
He was threatened.
Jack Dovidio is a social psychologist at Yale University.
So when we, as Americans, feel threatened from the outside, we’re going to define ourselves in very rigid fashions. Either you’re with me, and if you’re not really one of me, then you must be somebody else who’s against me.
The young woman in our experiment is an actor. But for this woman, discrimination is all too real. [INAUDIBLE] helped us design our experiment. Although born in Chicago, she says she’s constantly characterized by fellow Americans as the enemy.
They always start off with, you’re a terrorist, Osama lover, towel head, camel jockey, on and on.
While attending college in Texas, she says she continually suffered verbal abuse, and has even been physically attacked, just because she’s Muslim.
They assume I’m not from here. And if I tell them I’m American, they’re like, no you’re not. Just because you were born here doesn’t make you American. And I’m like, so what makes you American?
It’s a daily battle.
Mhm. And I don’t feel like, living in America, I should have to fight this battle.
Meanwhile, back at the bakery, our actor is at it again.
But how do I know you’re not a terrorist? Terrorists look like you.
But this time, the customers are sympathizing with the Muslim woman.
Right, I know. But can you blame me?
Yeah, I can blame you, actually.
Why? What’s the problem?
Alright, we’ll get out of here. You need to go [BLEEP] yourself, actually, what you need to do.
Thank you, sir.
I’m a good American. Alright? We’re at war with these people.
My dad’s a veteran. Go [BLEEP] yourself.
So is mine.
And he’s not the only one who walks out in anger.
You need to stop segregating against people. It’s wrong.
She’s an American–
No. You’re a bad American.
Time and again, people speak out with their pocketbooks.
You lost a couple of customers, just so you know.
But look what happens when this man threatens to leave.
You’re not a good American, sir.
I believe I am a good American. My son just came back from serving in the army for over a year in Iraq, and that has nothing to do with her rights.
I understand that.
Thank you, sir.
And I hear what you’re saying. But I–
I can’t believe you would be so discriminatory. I’m deeply offended by that.
I’m sorry to offend you, sir. But I’ve got to live with myself.
Seething, the man vows to fight back.
I will let people know this. I have stopped here every time I’ve come by this place, and I’ll never stop here again.
Why did folks get so upset?
They saw an injustice. It’s justice that binds us together. It’s justice that makes us a society. Any threat to that kind of sense of justice and fairness undermines the entire system.
You’re really not going to serve her because of what she’s wearing?
No, I’m not.
Perhaps that’s why more customers are outraged by our actor’s hateful behavior than approve of it.
You’re not dressed like an American.
But no one is more persistent than these two young women, who can’t believe what they’re hearing.
Take your jihad. Take it back out to the parking lot.
I mean, I got to protect my customers, OK?
You’re really offensive and disgusting.
I’m sorry. I’m just trying protect you here.
Thank you. Thank you.
Just because she’s dressed like that doesn’t mean anything.
This is a different culture.
How do you know? These people are trying to kill Americans.
She is my culture. So you’re ready to serve me, but you’re not ready to serve her?
You’re obviously dressed like an American.
And unlike the others, they don’t just leave in anger. They stand their ground.
So you’re going to regulate what people wear?
Yes, because I believe–
Are you the manager?
No, I’m not the manager.
Can I speak to your manager?
I’m Johnny Quinones with ABC News.
It’s only when we catch up with our heroines that they finally let their guards down.
I’m with my friend who’s Muslim and, I’ve just seen how people treat them differently. And it really hurts me.
Just watching them stand up for what they believe in touches Professor Dovidio. In a way, they defended America. I was impressed by that, because they wanted this to be a just society, a just place, a just bakery.
I’m John Quinones.
And remember this man whose son served in Iraq? He’s also moved to two tears.
Every person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
No matter how they’re dressed?
In every situation, no matter how they’re dressed.
Never have we seen reactions so polarized, from a thumbs up for prejudice, to an emphatic thumbs down.
Go [BLEEP] yourself.
Two different Americans, both convinced they’re patriotic. At the end of the day, 13 people stood up for the Muslim woman, while six sided with the clerk. But the majority of the bystanders, 22, did or said absolutely nothing.
That’s what’s most frightening to Muslims like [INAUDIBLE], who was watching our experiment. In fact, so frightening that they often avoid going out by themselves.
It’s really sad because I’m old enough to be able to do things by myself. I shouldn’t need a chaperone all the time. But that one time that I’m alone, and something bad might happen, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
It’s no wonder this young woman was so moved by the people who came forward to protect a stranger, who just happens to be Muslim.
Thank you so much for what you did. And I wish more people would do these type of things. And–
I do too.
It would make my life a lot easier.
[LAUGHTER] God go with you.
–duty. Do you want me to hurt you?
An angry young man verbally abusing his girlfriend.
I didn’t do anything to you.
There have been black couples, white couples, even a couple where the woman was the abuser, and the man, the victim. And they’re among the most compelling and memorable moments from our What Would You Do series.
But we wonder, how will people react if he’s black and she’s white, and vice versa, if our fighting couple is biracial. Will race be an issue? It isn’t long before the tranquility of this suburban park is shattered by a verbally abusive boyfriend.
You’re scaring me.
What do you mean I’m scaring you?
I need, I need to get away from you.
No, no, no. Sit, sit down.
There are those who stop to take in the scene, and then walk on. Others don’t even bother to stop.
I’m asking you to sit down.
We’re convinced this guy will get involved. Is he about to say something?
Excuse me, this is none of your business.
That’s all it takes. The man moves on. Later he told us he was going to call the police. But now, a much different response from two women whose bravery overcomes their fear.
What’s going on? Are you OK?
Ma’am mind your own business. We’re having a little tiff.
I’m not minding my own business when I see you abusing her. Do you want to come with me? Seriously. Come. I’ll take you home, or take you somewhere.
She steps in, and literally leads the victim out of harm’s way.
Meanwhile, he’ll be at your door tomorrow, won’t he? Was he drunk?
Was he on drugs?
I don’t know what’s wrong with him. He never acted like this before.
Sit down. Just sit.
And now, watch this woman.
Hey, hey, hey. Are you OK? Do yo need some help?
Excuse me, this is none of your business.
You’re harassing her.
I’m not harassing her. I’m just talking to my girlfriend. She’s walking around. I nee her to sit down.
OK, well then stop yelling. This is a public park. You’re obviously annoying her and upsetting her.
There are groups of people all over the place over here. Do you want me to bring you over to some of them? Would that be better? Come with me. Come with me.
Later, when both women learn the victim is really an actress hired for our experiment, their relief is obvious. But in the moment, they barely gave the danger a thought.
You were in tears as you walked away. I was scared. And I was walking away thinking, my back is to this guy, who I just decided was really dangerous. He could have a gun.
Katherine, this was a stranger. You didn’t have to get involved.
I think as a woman, I felt, I just felt angry. Like how dare this big guy abuse this woman?
I just think those women were just very, very brave. They know what was going to happen. And they just knew that they had to take action. And they acted immediately.
It was amazing the number of women who stepped right into the situation and took action.
Colgate University psychology professor, Carrie Keating.
They seem to recognize that not only was there a cost for helping, which was considerable. But for them there would have been a terrible cost for not helping, and for leaving our actress in the situation that was dangerous. It was almost as if it the men anticipated that there would be some sort of physical fight that would occur.
What about the fact that our couple is biracial?
It did not cross my mind for a split second. What struck me the most was that she’s tiny. And he’s really big.
Look in my eyes.
In fact, when this man calls 911, he seems unsure of the couple’s race.
He’s about six feet tall with a green baseball cap on. And she has black Afro hair.
And what race are they?
Both of them?
Do you want me to hurt you or something?
But what if we introduce a new couple to the park? Now the abusive boyfriend is African American. And his girlfriend, the victim, is white. Will it make a difference?
Normally I don’t interfere with anything like that, unless it looks like there’s going to be some serious physical harm.
I don’t need to leave. I want to sit here. I’m tired.
No. Let’s go.
These women, however, are a different story.
Come on. Come on. Let’s go.
Do you want me to call the police?
Don’t worry about it. I got everything under control. Sorry about that.
But the situation is clearly out of control. And the women hold their ground.
Are you deaf? Can you hear?
OK, I’ll just carry you.
Take your hands off her. Excuse me. You know, somebody went to call the police. So I wouldn’t take her anywhere.
Well that’s fine. They can call the police all they want.
Why am I making a scene. You’re creating a scene.
That’s what our producer walks up to tell them about our experiment.
I definitely think I was weighing in my mind my fear and what was the right thing to do.
We all did the right thing. Because we all just knew that we had to stay there until the police arrived. That was enough to do in this situation to ensure her safety.
OK, so the women are stepping up.
But where are the men? We soon get our answer.
Come on. Let’s go.
A young man issues a warning.
Does having that big dog make him a little braver?
Don’t grab her like that, man. I’m serious.
I know you’re trying to be a good guy and everything. That’s awesome. But you don’t understand the situation right here.
Don’t [BLEEP] touch her, man. I’m serious.
I’m going to come around here in a [BLEEP] few minutes. Don’t [BLEEP] touch her, man.
The moment he put his hands on her I felt like I should do something about it. At same time, I felt nervous for her.
Talk about nervous. As our next scene unfolds, we began to wonder if we’re about to get a lot more than we bargained for. Now the abuse is escalating, and the couple draws a crowd. Keep your eye on the tall runner in black. And watch what happens when the boyfriend gets physical.
Hitting you? This is hitting you.
Leave her alone.
Hey. Hey. Leave her alone. Go away.
Do you know the situation?
You just kicked her. I just saw you kick her.
Do you know the situation?
I don’t care what the situation. No situation should you kick a girl.
It’s time to diffuse things before anyone gets hurt.
Excuse me. Excuse me. My name is John Quinones. I’m a reporter, and this is part of an experiment.
It probably helped that David Young, is six foot seven. An avid runner, he wants to keep going. So we have to catch up with them later to find out why he intervened.
A lot of people just go on by and did nothing.
You make your choices. Maybe that’s a wiser choice. If I was standing 40 feet away and had a cell phone, maybe I would have made a different decision.
But I was right there. He had just kicked her. So you do what you have to do.
And you checked your pulse width this meter you have.
Yeah, I run around 135 beats per minute. And when I was done was it clearly over 165, 170. So the adrenaline kicks in. If he had reacted little bit differently, than the next thing to do was to do something.
If he had been bigger than you?
It would have taken more courage.
And did race make a difference? In our experiment, fewer women intervened when the abusive man was African American, and the victim white. Professor Keating has a theory.
It may have been that the women were more threatened by his very physical appearance. And African Americans are often considered to be stereotypically more aggressive than Caucasians.
So that might have been the reason they didn’t step in?
They may have been more hesitant for that reason. They didn’t take responsibility and step into a situation that was clearly one were intervention was called for.
But for those who did intervene with both of our couples, the motivation was simple, yet strong enough to overcome fear and racial stereotypes. It was the very human need to help someone in trouble.
I walk in this park every morning. And if– that couldn’t be allowed to happen. It just wasn’t right.
When I was able to get her away I felt really empowered. Like, ha ha.
The reason why people help is complex. We help not only to get a victim out of distress. but we also help, in part, to set the world right. Because most of us have a sense that the world is just in the end.
And we’ll work towards that goal. And we’ll put ourselves at risk in order to accomplish that goal.
It’s a tranquil day at the beach– kids playing in the sand, people swimming, sunning themselves, or taking an afternoon stroll. The boardwalk is a great place to relax and enjoy a book, unless you’re this woman.
Oh my God. You’re so fat. How could you sit here and eat like that?
What would you do if you saw these girls harassing a complete stranger, simply because of her weight?
When you look in the mirror, do you see fat?
How do you get that fat?
The words sting. And those struggling with obesity say they’ve heard them all before. Scenes like this one, from the TV show, Friends, are painfully familiar.
No, it’s not that. I just don’t want to be stuck here all night with your fat sister.
Back at the boardwalk, the taunting goes on. But no one knows that both the victim and the nasty girls are actresses, hired for our primetime experiment. Will anyone intervene?
Fat, fat. Fat, fat, fat. She’s getting upset.
These people hear every word. But for whatever reason, they keep on walking.
Just please go away and leave me alone.
Have you ever tried lipo?
This woman and her son take in the ugly scene, but they don’t stop either.
We didn’t want to get involved.
Sometimes you have to just be like, DGI. Don’t Get Involved.
They clearly saw that something was wrong. But they didn’t act on it.
Colgate University psychology professor, Carrie Keating says, we often assume that overweight people have only themselves to blame.
They are perceived as not very smart, out of control. They are perceived as lazy–
Unhealthy. And the truth of the matter is it’s very difficult to control weight. Anybody who’s ever tried knows that.
How do you fit in bed?
We begin to wonder whether anyone will stop, when suddenly this woman approaches.
Hey guys leave her alone.
Oh, God. [INTERPOSING VOICES].
Why are you picking on her?
You think that that’s OK that she’s overweight?
Listen, everybody’s different. It’s really sad.
Everybody’s different. That’s your excuse.
You probably really upset her now.
[INAUDIBLE], visiting from England, is also upset.
As a mother you felt some instinct, huh?
Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] everyone was just ignoring her.
What made you stop?
Because I felt really sorry for her, because she was by herself.
The intensity of our experiment seems to have caught everyone off guard.
You were shaken up by this.
I could feel how sensitive she was. And, I don’t know, it got to me.
It was getting harder and harder to go on with no one stopping us. Because the things that were coming out of our mouths were such hurtful things that none of the three of us would every say normally.
We instructed the actresses to be hurtful, but the language comes from a place that seems to be inside all of us.
Were you born that fat?
Wasn’t it interesting that the actresses who were harassing this woman came up with such powerful language?
If I was as fat as you, I would not be wearing those shorts right now.
I would get, like, a mumu or a tent.
They come up with all kinds of lines.
Yeah, they did. And they didn’t need a script to do it.
Look at the porker.
More people pass by. Some clearly see what’s going on. Yet no one stops. But then becomes this guardian angel in a green t-shirt.
I just think that you’re treating her really disrespectfully. And if it’s not someone that you know, you should get on with your lives and mind your own business.
Well I think maybe you should mind your own business and get on with your life and leave us alone.
The actresses talk back to her like spoiled school kids. But this thoughtful young woman is undeterred.
I just felt that I needed to say something. Because I think that as human beings we need to be a little bit more respectful to one another.
She touches her heart. She brings her hand to her heart. She feels badly. Look at that.
And it’s really just disgraceful to me to see people act this way towards someone else.
Do you think that that’s healthy?
Being that fat.
I think that she can make her own decisions, OK? I think that it’s absolutely inhumane the way that you’re treating other people that you don’t know.
Elizabeth [INAUDIBLE] heartfelt intervention springs from more than just a desire to do the right thing. It turns out she’s a psychology major, studying nutrition and eating disorders.
I guess given my experience and my education, and this is something that I really care about and want to affect change one day, and it’s starting right now.
She sees the woman on the bench, not as a fat person, but as a person.
Of the more than 60 people who walk by and clearly hear the insults, only a handful stop to intervene.
No, no keep going. This is, what are you doing? You know what, mind your own business.
Why don’t you mind your own business?
I am. My business is my kids, and the lessons that they learn.
Look at this woman.
Look at the size of her thighs.
Excuse me, whale.
Even when we replace our female actors with three young men, the abuse just as relentless, most people walk by.
You need to stop eating, maybe for about a year.
Would you like to go back in the ocean, Shamu?
Then, a mother and daughter who just cannot contain their anger.
Are you guys impressed by yourselves?
Like, obnoxious. You’re being rude.
Even with our male actors, it’s still mostly women who intervene.
Why do you think you look like that? It’s from eating stuff like this.
I know you’re not seriously harassing this woman. You’ve got to be [BLEEP] kidding me.
We have a right to be here.
You are harassing this woman, disgustingly.
This woman is disgusting.
She was very bold. She stood among that group of young men, made a phone call right there in front of them. That’s how angry she was. She lost sight of her own vulnerability.
As she challenges the boys, keep your eye on the man who’s walked up.
Oh boy. He comes up. He’s really angry.
And he’s giving every non-verbal signal that these boys are in trouble. And he’s going to strike one of them. All that gesturing that he does, hopefully would drive the young men away.
What would you have done, had we not stopped you?
Those three guys were about to get leveled.
Is this a worthwhile experiment?
I think it starts a conversation about how we feel about overweight people.
Now they didn’t touch you?
No, they never did.
The words were painful.
Absolutely. Fatty’s not a great work, particularly if you’ve struggled with your weight your whole life.
The actress sitting on the bench must have had a very long day. Words hurt. And they have a lasting impact on how people feel about themselves.
Actress Cynthia [INAUDIBLE].
It’s been emotional for me. I’m sure I’ll be a wreck tonight. But it started off as acting, sometimes. And sometimes it just escalated into tears. Tears made sweeter at the end of a long day by the soothing words of a complete stranger.
Don’t let them beat up on you. You’re beautiful.
She said I was beautiful.
It took us our entire series before we heard a brand new phrase, DGI, or the excuse, don’t get involved. But what if everybody felt that way? It’s noon on a beautiful Atlanta weekend. And very few people in these sidewalk cafes seem concerned with the appearance of a man wearing a ski cap strolling among them.
Hey, ma’am. Do you, my pen just ran out of ink. Can I borrow– do you have, like, a pen or something. I just need to write–
But the tranquility of the day will soon be broken.
Hey. Stop. Someone took my purse.
You’ve got to be [BLEEP] kidding me.
Did you guys see anything?
If this were real crime, eye witnesses would later be called on to identify the thief.
But this purse snatching is actually part of our hidden camera experiment. This time, What Would You Do is really what did you see?
My name is John Quinones, and this is part of an experiment on eyewitness identification. We wanted to know if you guys remember what you saw.
Blond hair. Had a hat on. About 35. Six one.
I would say late twenties, white male. I’m guessing five ten, maybe. Dressed in dark jacket.
Could you spot him out of a lineup? Pretty sure?
I think I might be able to.
I suspect I would be.
Yeah, I think so.
I might be able to pick him out.
My suspicion would be that they’re wrong.
Dr. Jennifer Dysart is a psychologist at New York’s John J. College of Criminal Justice.
Eyewitness identification is fallible.
Yes, it is. Extremely. It’s not necessarily that the eyewitness is lying. It’s that they’re just wrong.
To see just how wrong they could be, we recreated the six pack lineup that police often use with witnesses. Could our witnesses who all saw the purse snatching pick out the right suspect from these six photos?
OK. Who picked number one up there?
No one picked numbers one, or two. Number three? Remember these two guys? Outside, they were fairly certain they could ID the thief.
I think I might be able to.
I suspect I would be.
OK, to start, why number three?
Just general facial features. It’s not so much that I recognize him exactly. But I tried to eliminate the ones that I strongly felt were not the guy.
I’m going to have to echo what he just said.
It’s sort of a process of elimination.
It’s fascinating because they kind of eliminated the bad choices. And we’re left with this number three. This tends to be a type of procedure that leads to inaccurate choices.
And they are, in fact, wrong. The correct answer is number five. This man, who practically tackled purse snatcher, gets it wrong, too. He picks number four.
I did get a good look at the guy because I jumped across and looked in his eyes, looked at his face. Even though he had a hat on, I got a good memory of people. So I’m thinking it would be number four.
OK. Would you tell police this was the man who did it?
I got up on the guy would. I would probably go as far as to press charges.
So he’s 100% sure. And yet he’s 100% wrong. Most of our eye witnesses, however, got it right. Wow, a whole bunch of you. But still, 25% got their eyewitness ID wrong. Not good odds when it could be your first step to a life behind bars, fingered for a crime you did not commit.
That’s what happened to this man, who was picked out of a police lineup by a frightened young woman. On a dark night more than 20 years ago, a single mother of three is raped at knife point in her own home.
He said he would come back. And then he would kill my children.
Weeks later at work, she catches a glimpse of a maintenance man in an open elevator.
He looks like the man.
If someone was to call for us to come to their office to fix something, then I would go.
And it was arranged for him to come up to an office where I was working.
We do what we have to do, and we leave.
And I had flashbacks of the attack. I was sure that this was the same person.
Later at the police station, she again identified Julius Earl Ruffin.
He was just shocked.
And I said who was that? I say, I’ve never seen her before.
Ruffin spent 21 years in a Virginia state prison, until a DNA a test freed him and identified the real rapist. Not even close. How is it possible that anyone could make such a mistake?
That’s a very good question. We’re not entirely sure. One of the things that we do know about what we call cross race identification, that we tend to look, maybe, at the wrong cues. And so, for example, a white person would probably look at someone’s hair and eye color. Unfortunately that’s not very helpful if they’re being asked to distinguish amongst black people, or Asians, in which hair color and eye color really doesn’t vary too much.
Cross racial identification is more likely to cause mistakes, not just between blacks and whites trying to ID each other, but with Hispanics, too. Watch what happens this time, as our hidden cameras roll on a Puerto Rican man. Now remember, he’s an actor who pretends to case the restaurant for an easy target.
Excuse me. I’m trying to get to Juniper. You wouldn’t happened to know how to– the best way to get over there? Sorry about that.
My purse. Did you guys see him? He just took my purse. Oh my God. Did you see that? Wait, wait, my purse.
During a weekend of taping, our Latino purse thief was seen by 13 people. Five of them could not pick him out of this photo lineup.
Three, maybe, but five, I’m thinking more than three.
These two Asian women got it wrong. In fact, Mary [? Gao, ?] originally from China, even had trouble simply identifying the race of the thief.
I think this guy is the least minority looking. And what I remember was a white man.
You thought he was Caucasian. You didn’t think he was Latino?
No. But I guess I’m not the right person to distinguish a Latino from Caucasians. Sometimes I get confused.
Excuse me, ma’am. You got change for a dollar on you?
This time, amidst a sea of white faces, our actor is African American.
Will these restaurant patrons be able to correctly identify the man who stole the purse right before their eyes in broad daylight? You may think you know the answer, but there’s a chilling twist.
We expect white witnesses to have a tougher time picking our thief than blacks do.
I only saw the side view.
Which is exactly what we find in our experiment.
Number two. Who thought it was number two?
But we weren’t prepared for this. Amazingly, every single one of our black eye witnesses correctly identifies the African American thief.
I remember the hair that he had the below his lip. It connected to his beard.
He made me feel comfortable. And I was just kind of observing him. So I got a good look at his face and his profile.
He had a sort of a bad complexion. He had a black mole or a zit on the side of his face.
I remember his face.
And he was right.
Yes. The interesting thing is that he remembered a specific type of facial hair that the perpetrator had. And it’s interesting, if you go back and you look at all of the different photographs, the six photographs, number two is really the only one that has this very specific type of facial hair that he describes.
And most of the white eye witnesses fail. Number six? Who thought it was– most of you.
But now, an eye opener. Something that should disturb all of us. Not only did a majority of the white eye witnesses fail to identify the thief, this man, a majority of them picked a totally innocent one. Over and over again, people made the same mistake. Think how easily the wrong man could have gone to jail, just like Julius Earl Ruffin did when Ann Meng made the mistake of her life, and his.
It’s the worst thing to ever happen to me.
I’ve been in prison 21 years for a crime I didn’t commit.
And there’s no fixing it.
I didn’t think about the victim anymore. It was in any need.
He says he forgives the woman who put them there. But he can’t forgive a criminal justice system that helped her do it.
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Stereotyping and Discrimination
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Social Injustice and Public Outrage
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Bigotry and Citizen Intervention
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Bi-Racial Abuse and Public Intervention
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Male and Female Intervention in Public Abuse Situations
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Bigotry Against Overweight People
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Courage to Confront Social Injustice
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Eyewitness Accounts of Crimes
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Cross-Racial Eyewitness Accounts
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Confronting Discrimination and Prejudice (FULL VIDEO) (36:01)