“Black Lives Matter. Black Arts Matter.”
Early in the documentary River City Drumbeat, these powerful words blast from a speaker addressing the children of the River City Drum Corps — an immersive music, cultural and educational youth program in Louisville, Ky. The mantra then reverberates throughout the film, which chronicles the passing of RCDC leadership from Ed “Nardie” White to his protégé, Albert Shumake, as well as their joint efforts to help the children and the RCDC develop.
Directed by Anne Flatté and Marlon Johnson, River City Drumbeat is above all a testament to Black excellence, beginning with its opening quote, “We desire to bequeath two things to our children. The first one is roots, the other is wings.” Featuring the development of the youths who participate in the program and the community that has a hand in raising them, this documentary is equal parts powerful and inspirational. Whether it be hearing how the RCDC program has helped children transition to adulthood or how it’s kept them away from the violence and drugs that are prominent in their neighborhoods, the positive results within the community are undeniable.
Throughout River City Drumbeat, the passing of the torch from White to Shumake smartly introduces audiences to different aspects of Black culture via music and art. Looking into the two men’s lives, seeing the impact the arts have had on them and why they are incredible leaders despite their circumstances, nicely emphasizes how passion can shape one’s journey — and is truly a privilege to watch.
Available to rent starting Aug. 14 via grailmoviehouse.com