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NOVA: Percy Julian - Forgotten Genius
NOVA Percy Julian - Forgotten Genius
Actors: Shawn Agard, Ray Almeida, Ceoria Coats, Carmen Dillon, Frank Harrison
Director: Llewellyn M. Smith
Genres: Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 52min

His house was firebombed. He lost his job on the eve of the Depression. He took on powerful, entrenched interests in the scientific establishment and overcame countless obstacles to become a world-class chemist, a self-mad...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Shawn Agard, Ray Almeida, Ceoria Coats, Carmen Dillon, Frank Harrison
Director: Llewellyn M. Smith
Creators: Llewellyn M. Smith, Franziska Blome, Jennifer Callahan, Laurie Cahalane, Lisa Mirowitz, Stephen Lyons
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: Wgbh / Pbs
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/06/2007
Original Release Date: 02/06/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 02/06/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 52min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Dr. Julian Represented!
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 02/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It's very fascinating to me that this work was a NOVA project, rather than an American Experience one. I really wonder if PBS were trying to get hardcore scientists to think about history, race, and other matters they might not usually explore.

I disagree somewhat with the title. Yes, more people may have heard of George Washington Carver, however, Dr. Julian is not "forgotten." There's an important high school in Chicago named after him. He also has a US postal stamp made in his honor. My guess is that he's beloved in Black scientific circles.

Too often, many (mis)conclude that "the Emancipation Proclamation solved everything for Blacks" or "the Civil Rights movement corrected any other leftover matters for them." This work provides numerous examples of anti-Black racism. Just as Sandra Day O'Connor was not given legal jobs after finishing at the top of her law class, Dr. Julian was constantly rejected from graduate programs. Just as Harvard recently disrespected Dr. Cornel West, Harvard prevented Dr. Julian from finishing his Ph.D. there. Just as Malcolm X's teacher told him he couldn't dream to be a professional, white scientists told Dr. Julian he should be more than satisfied that he had an undergraduate degree. I love how this work demonstrated that racism continually caused problems for this talented brother.

On the other hand, I don't think non-Blacks will be "threatened" by this work. As. Dr. Julian faced much institutional racism, he also had several white allies that aided him. The fact here reminded me of Thomas and Dr. Blaylock, Jesse Owens and Lutz Lung, or even the interracial buddies of "Brian's Song." I also loved seeing that Dr. Julian lifted as he climbed. He seems to have hired and encouraged numerous female and non-white scientists younger than him.

I struggle with the length of the work. This could have been one hour, rather than two, if it weren't for all the acting and monologues. I suppose the fluff was added to lure in everyday viewers and scientists that dislike other subjects. As a person who doesn't care for science, there was much talk of chemistry for which I could not care less. However, since that field is where he earned his fame, it's logical that they went deep into that topic.

This was a strong work, perfect for Black History Month. It's length may prohibit school classes from seeing it in one class period. Still, for those who haven't heard of this genius and his struggles, it will be quite inspiring."
A vivid and enlightening documentary
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 04/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Featuring Tony Award-winning actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Percy Julian: Forgotten Genius is a DVD biography of a truly exceptional American scientist, humanitarian, and self-made millionaire. The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy Julian shattered the color barrier in science over a decade before Jackie Robinson did in baseball. Julian discovered how to transform soybeans into synthetic steroids on an industrial scale, and helped to make modern medical drugs like cortisone available to patients. Originally shown as part of the public television series NOVA, Percy Julian: Forgotten Genius is a vivid and enlightening documentary featuring period reenactments and drawing heavily from family archives and dozens of interviews with Julian's colleagues and relatives. Highly recommended for school, library, and private DVD collections alike. 112 minutes, color."