RACE OR REASON: THE BELLPORT DILEMMA
2003 • 59 Minutes • Color / B&W • Video / Digital Video
Directed by Betty Puleston and Lynne Jackson
Produced by George C. Stoney
“If you get involved in the community when growing up, and adults listen, you’ll feel empowered and never forget it.” – Betty Puleston
Coming out of the late 60’s and into the early 70’s, race related tensions, segregation, and race riots persisted across America, including in the small town of Bellport in Long Island, NY. At Bellport High School, black and latinx students experienced censorship, and endured confrontations with angry white students, parents and police after they tried to put up posters of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X at their school.
Using the Challenge for Change program from the National Film Board of Canada as inspiration, Bellport resident and longtime partner and collaborator to George Stoney, Betty Puleston, opened her home to black, latinx and white students so they could come together and air their grievances through dialogue. The directors gave the students portable video cameras and they filmed their discussions which became the foundation of the film Race or Reason: The Bellport Dilemma. Thirty years later, the filmmakers invited the students to come together again to talk about their experiences and discuss whether progress was made in the Civil Rights Movement at the time.
The documentary demonstrates that media is an effective tool for facilitating conflict resolution, while acknowledging that the struggle for Civil Rights continues.
Betty Puleston and Lynne Jackson / Co-Directors
George C. Stoney / Producer
David Bagnall, Deran Browne, Isaac Cruz, Walter Dale, Bill Giebitz, Stephan Hamilton, Bob Ipcor, Robert Kalor, David Shulman, Ron Rogers, and Joe Torres/ Camera