documentary hack


Ava DuVernay

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

In this award-winning documentary politicians, activists and scholars analyze the criminalization and mass incarceration of Black Americans within the changing forms of the US prison system from slavery to today.




by Ava DuVernay


The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, ending involuntary servitude except as a punishment for convicted criminals. Yet today, through disproportionate policing and criminalization of Black Americans, it is still Black men who are overwhelmingly subjected to forced labor and confinement.

Director Ava Duvernay is known for her work on Disney's A Wrinkle in Time as well as the drama series When They See Us. In her new documentary, DuVernay continues to explore racial issues, arguing that the carceral state is a continuation of slavery in a different form.

Taking its point of departure from the origins of slavery in the United States, 13th examines the intricate convergence of race with the political and judicial apparatus across American history. This sobering journey traces a chain of racialized inequality from slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation to the radical movements of the Civil Rights era and Black Lives Matter.

Favorite quote

We have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability shapes outcomes.

- Bryan Stevenson, attorney

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