Ava DuVernay Reveals Whether There Will Be a ’13th’ Sequel, Amid Ongoing Black Lives Matter Protests

Ava DuVernay is one of the most successful Black female directors in Hollywood. Her movies and TV series, like the award-winning projects Selma and When They See Us, deal with U.S. history and race — topics that many filmmakers don’t even touch. But one of her most impactful projects was the 2016 documentary 13th. The film follows the path of slavery in the U.S., and how it has transformed since the end of the Civil War. Rather than being eradicated, like many assumed, the Netflix doc makes the argument that slavery is alive because of a loophole in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Now that Black Lives Matter protests and growing concern about police brutality spread across the country, some have wondered if DuVernay is inspired to make a sequel to 13th. Here’s what she had to say.

What is Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary ’13th’ about?

13th
Director Ava DuVernay, Common, Jelani Cobb and Cindy Holland attend the 54th New York Film Festival Opening Night Gala Presentation and 13th World Premiere | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

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According to The New York Times, DuVernay’s “Netflix documentary 13th … traces the legacy of American slavery to the present day criminalization of Black communities.” The film delves into a painful look at the U.S.’s history and its treatment of Black people.

Per the U.S. Library of Congress, the 13th Amendment states:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Via Jim Crow laws, segregated schools and businesses, and current-day mass incarceration, DuVernay argues in 13th that oppression of Black Americans is baked into the system. And that in a way, slavery never truly ended. All of these topics are frighteningly relevant today.

Perhaps that’s why the movie is coming back into conversation on social media.

DuVernay responds to Twitter user wondering whether there will be a ‘part 2′ to ’13th’

“I wonder if @ava will do a 13th part 2 in light of what has transpired these past few months,” a tweeter named Shanti Das wrote recently.

DuVernay retweeted the message and responded, hinting at what might really be next.

“Not a part two,” she acknowledged. However, the director has been brewing up some new ideas.

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“I’ve been thinking about THE 15TH,” DuVernay continued. “Don’t know if I have enough time though to hit it hard like I want by November. It would be a race to the finish if I started now. Not sure.”

We assume she mentions November because of the U.S. presidential election happening in November 2020. Regardless, her take on these issues would be valuable no matter when she releases her next project.

What is the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

If DuVernay does end up making a documentary about the 15th Amendment, what it be about? Most likely: voting rights. According to the Library of Congress:

The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the ‘right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.’ Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.

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Many of the commenters were supportive of DuVernay’s potential 15th project.

Ava DuVernay director
Ava DuVernay attends the American Film Institute’s 47th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to Denzel Washington in 2019 | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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“Do it Ava!!!!” actor Bradley Whitford replied on Twitter.

“We’ll help, if needed!” a comedian named Kennelia Stradwick tweeted.

Others had even more ideas for the Selma director on future constitutional-amendment-related documentaries.

“19TH on voter suppression would be dope too,” Raquel Willis responded on Twitter. Another tweeter recommended DuVernay dive into the 8th Amendment. Regardless of what DuVernay directs next, the filmmaker is no doubt walking the walk when it comes to activism.

According to The New York Times:

DuVernay’s media company ARRAY introduced the Law Enforcement Accountability Project in the wake of George Floyd’s killing while in police custody in Minneapolis, with the goal of commissioning, funding and amplifying works from Black and female artists that focus on police violence.