13th, the Oscar-nominated film by Ava DuVernay, is no doubt one of the most exposing and riveting documentaries about the history of racial inequality in the United States. However, DuVernay focuses her film on the Prison Industrial Complex, and the mass incarceration of African-Americans seen in the United States prison system. The many speakers in the film offer valuable, insightful pieces of information and evidence regarding America’s racist culture. Here are some of the best quotes from the film:
- “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt their communities.” – former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman
- “So many aspects of the old Jim Crow are suddenly legal again once you’ve been branded a felon. And so it seems that in America we haven’t so much ended racial caste, but simply redesigned it.” – Michelle Alexander
- “When I think of systems of oppression historically and in this country, they’re durable. They tend to reinvent themselves, and they do it right under your nose.”- Glenn E. Martin
- “The United States is home to 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners. Think about that.”-Barack Obama
- “In many ways, the so- called war on drugs was a war on communities of color, a war on black communities, a war on latino communities- Angela Davis
- “If you dismiss black complaints of mistreatment by police as being completely rooted in our modern context then you’re missing the point completely. There has never been a period in our history where the law and order branch of the state has not operated against the freedoms, the liberties, the options, the choices that have been available to the black community, generally speaking.”- Kevin Gannon
- “Justice too long delayed is justice denied”- Martin Luther King
- “The way that we appeal to voters’ sense of fear and anxiety in our nation runs through black bodies”- Khalil G. Muhammad
- “States were required to keep prisons filled, even if no one was committing a crime. And in the late 80s and early 90s, this became a growth industry unlike very few growth industries in America’s history.” – Bryan Stevenson
- “We have in this country people pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit just because the thought of going to jail for what the mandatory minimums are is so excruciating.” – Cory Booker
- “There are thousands of people in jails right this moment that are sitting there for no other reason than because they’re too poor to get out.” – Michelle Alexander
- “We make them their crime. That’s how we introduced them. ‘That’s a rapist. That’s a murderer. That’s a robber. That’s a sex offender. That’s a burglar. That’s a gang leader.’ And through that lens, it becomes so much easier to accept that they’re guilty and that they should go to prison.” – Bryan Stevenson
- “People say all the time, ‘well, I don’t understand how people could have tolerated slavery?’ ‘How could they have made peace with that?’ ‘How could people have gone to a lynching and participated in that?’ ‘That’s so crazy, if I was living at that time I would never have tolerated anything like that.’ And the truth is we are living in this time, and we are tolerating it.” -Bryan Stevenson.
Ultimately, 13th has won many awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary, the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Award for Best Documentary, as well as the EDA Award and EDA Female Focus Award from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, just to name a few. This documentary is an absolute Netflix treasure and is a must see for all.