A Review of Amend: The Fight for America – A Necessary Analysis of American History

Kiera Manning, Writer

Some of us can remember those days of sitting in our high school history class, trying to understand the words of The Constitution and memorize the amendments with an oversized textbook. A few years later, we still have trouble remembering each amendment’s meaning.

Amend: The Fight for America, a 6 episode docu-series hosted by actor Will Smith, delves deep into the evolving fight for equal rights through the lens of the country’s 14th Amendment for ostracized groups.

Directors Kenny Leon and Reinaldo Marcus Green skillfully present the country’s constant disparity from the promise of the 14th amendment — “liberty and equal protection for all persons.”

Sure, we’ve all seen documentaries regarding the fight for equality in America, however with its combination of educating and entertaining, from oratorical presentations of civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the comedic commentary of personalities like Larry Wilmore.

With the riveting question, “Who is America for?” Amend shows how many minority groups have shaped the country using their fight for equality and inclusion.

Depicting how politics and the business aspects of slavery harmed society throughout the years but also how the past affects the thoughts of individuals and continues the pattern of a toxic system.

The unique approach encourages viewers to confront and accept the ugly realities of the country while continuing to feel good about being American.

The series centers around the ending of slavery, racism against Black (African) Americans, gender and LGBTQ issues, and immigration. Including powerful monologues from familiar actors, activists, and scholars such as legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson, Grown-ish’s Yara Shahidi, Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, and others.

Episode 1 titled ‘Citizen’, examines the U.S. constitution 14th amendment, abolishment of slavery, and calls for citizenship for former enslaved Black Americans with Fredrick Douglass becoming a pivotal voice in the combat for equality. 

File:Frederick Douglass 1856 sq.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

‘Resistance’, episode 2, illustrates the aftermath of the alterations including Black Americans as citizens. From violence to court rulings and the ‘Lost Cause of confederacy’ ideology, systematically suppress the promise of the 14th amendment.

The third episode, ‘Wait’, explains the civil rights movement as Dr. Martin Luther King jr. Others organize protests that provoke support and objection from politicians and citizens alike. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. | I Have a Dream... www.archives… | Flickr

Episode 4 ‘Control’ turns the focus to Women’s rights and the 1970’s fight for women’s equality included in the 14th amendment.

‘Love’, episode 5, details the struggles of the LGBTQ and fight for same-sex marriage. Concluding in the 2015 Supreme Court case of an Ohio couple struggling to legalize their marriage in their home state. 

The final episode, ‘Promise’, shows xenophobic policies, prejudice, and brutality which have frequently crushed the dreams of immigrants in America.

Actor/Host Will Smith explains, “Our hope with this series is to illuminate the beauty that is the promise of America and to share a message of connection and shared humanity so that we will be able to better understand and celebrate our different experiences as Americans and promote progress toward the true equality promised to all persons under the 14th Amendment.”

Amend: The Fight for America was straightforward with its explanations, well-presented and the use of well-known entertainers make it appealing to those who find other documentaries long-winded or boring. 

Like many Americans, I could not explain what the 14th amendment is or what it does off the top of my head until watching this series. I was truly amazed at how the 14th affects everyone in the country; not only citizens.  

With forgotten or ignored history, the series is not only educational but an eye-opener to the depths of our country. 

The docu-series also can be used as a stepping stone for individual research. I was informed of historical events never mentioned in or outside the classroom which encouraged me to seek more information.  

I believe the series is a necessary presentation and would advise anyone on American soil, regardless of citizenship status, race or religion, to take the time to watch the series.  

I would go so far as to make it a requirement for all U.S. schools.