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More About The Film

A History of Challenge and Resilience

Black families have been in Boulder continuously since the 1870s. They have faced discrimination in housing, employment, education, health care, criminal justice, and social activities.  By the turn of the 20th century, three institutions dominated Boulder’s skyline: the University of Colorado, the Boulder Sanitarium, and Chautauqua Park – each engaging in practices of racial discrimination that shaped the city’s character, but little recalled today.  After 1910, the Black population began to shrink.  Many young people left for Denver or other places of greater opportunity and diversity. Others stayed, working hard to build the Black community and contribute to the broader community.   By the 1920’s, Boulder had become a rallying point for the Ku Klux Klan.  After World War II, Boulder acquired a reputation for political liberalism, yet established habits of racial segregation continued.  In the 1970s, however, with the arrival of the federal labs and IBM, employment and housing opened up.   The 1970s and 1980s were comparatively good times for Boulder’s Black families, but gentrification and cultural change have made things harder in recent decades.

"There is No Going Back"

In 2019, a Boulder police officer harassed and threatened Zayd Atkinson, a Naropa University student, with his taser and his gun.  Zayd had been performing his work-study job at his student housing.  This racial profiling catalyzed a mass protest and a community-wide conversation on the subject of race and Boulder. More recently, the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police has further intensified this conversation, as Boulderites of all kinds took to the streets in protest.  With increased awareness that Boulder is struggling with deeply-entrenched racism, young activists are now working to turn dialogue into sustained, transformative action.


This is [Not] Who We Are documents Zayd’s story and interviews a cross-section of Boulderites to capture aspects of this conversation and the issues it has raised.  The film seeks to deepen the dialogue about Boulder, the increasingly gentrified future toward which it is heading, and whether a more economically, racially diverse, and socially just future is possible.  The voices of This is [Not] Who We Are suggest that Boulder is still driving many of its most talented and promising young people away.  The young people speak on their own behalf, and the elders share their decades of experience in a community that is not as liberal or as open as it believes it is.  The film explores new solutions to old problems, frontiers that are trying to reach beyond dialogue to informed action.  This Is [Not] Who We Are will speak to communities across the country, as people from many backgrounds seek positive efforts toward dialogue and systemic change.

Collection of historical photos below is interactive.

Click on individual photos (including corners) to enlarge.


Contribute to Our Fundraising Campaign

We filmmakers are volunteering our time out of a passion for this film.  Please help us reach the finish line, as there are many cash costs associated with documentary filmmaking.  

If you would like to make your donation be tax-deductible,

please visit our page on the website of our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, the Denver Film Society :

Or mail a check to: 

Denver Film Society

Sie FilmCenter
2510 E. Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80206

You must indicate that the donation is for the film, “This is [Not] Who We Are” for the donation to reach us. 

Thank you!

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