2021 St. Louis Int'l Film Festival

Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Expired November 22, 2021 5:59 AM
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In “Twenty Pearls” — deftly narrated by Phylicia Rashad — two-time SLIFF alum Deborah Riley Draper (“Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”) closely examines the founding and legacy of the first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), which is now regarded as one of the most significant and influential Black organizations in history. Through interviews and rarely seen archival materials, “Twenty Pearls” tells a powerful story of sisterhood. The documentary recounts the sorority’s origins in 1908, when nine Black women at Howard University created Alpha Kappa Alpha, and shows how it has remained an important force for social change and empowerment for Black women for more than 100 years. The accomplishments of the organization are legion. AKA created the Mississippi Health Project, which served impoverished children during Jim Crow amid threats from White supremacists. As an outgrowth of this initiative, they created the first mobile health clinic in the country. AKA did important work on anti-lynching bills with Eleanor Roosevelt, supported the World War II effort, and lobbied to desegregate the armed forces. The famous “Hidden Figures” of NASA’s space program? They were Alpha Kappa Alphas. Maya Angelou? Alpha Kappa Alpha. Civil-rights strategist Constance Baker Motley? Alpha Kappa Alpha. The good works of AKA continue to this day, from Japan to Ghana to the United Arab Emirates, and “Twenty Pearls” documents the sorority’s vast impact, culminating in the historic election of sorority member Kamala Harris as America’s first Black and South Asian woman vice president. With director Deborah Riley Draper, SLIFF Women in Film Award honoree.

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  • Runtime
    90 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
  • Director
    Deborah Draper