Educational Media Reviews Online | Reviewed by Daniel L. Thacker, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State Altoona
"The First Rainbow Coalition will fit well for political science and US history courses that need examples of a people’s history or class struggle. This film demonstrates multi-ethnic people and interracial politics joining forces for a common cause during one of the most tumultuous times in United States history."
Video Librarian | Kevin Hall
"The film deftly combines archival footage with interviews from former members of these groups in order to tell the story of how these 3 disparate groups found unity during turbulent times. Santisteban eschews a narrator, instead letting those who lived during this partnership tell the story. It is an eye-opening tale and one that, until this documentary, flew under the radar."
AL DÍA NEWS Media
"This is the extraordinary story told by The First Rainbow Coalition, a documentary by San Antonio filmmaker Ray Santisteban, which will air on PBS, and features a young Black activist, Bobby Lee, who mustered the courage to go north of segregated Chicago to the poor white area with the firm purpose of sealing an alliance with his fiercest racial enemies –in pursuit of the common good."
Independent filmmaker Ray Santisteban has worked for the past twenty-six years as a documentary filmmaker. His work consistently explores activist and artist profiles, addressing the themes of justice, memory and political transformation. A graduate of NYU's film and TV production program, he has explored a variety of subjects, including New York Black Panther leader Dhoruba Bin Wahad - PASSIN' IT ON (Co-producer), the roots of Puerto Rican poetry in NUYORICAN POETS CAFE (1994, Director, Producer, Editor), Chicano poetry in VOICES FROM TEXAS (2003, Director, Producer) and VISIONES: LATINO ART AND CULTURE IN THE U.S. (Senior Producer), a three hour PBS series nationally broadcast in 2004. He recently directed and produced THE FIRST RAINBOW COALITION.
Ray's body of work has put him in contact with some of the most well known and well respected activists of the 1960s. He provides audiences with a range of knowledge on grassroots movements of the 1960s and a window into how those movements work today.
Awards garnered include: 1992 Student Academy Award, a 1993 New York Foundation for the Arts Media Fellowship, a 1996 "Ideas in Action" Award from the National Tele-Media Alliance, a 1996 "Faculty of the Year" Award from the Chicano Studies Program at UW Madison, a 2005 Rockefeller Film and Video Fellowship, a 2008 and 2016 San Antonio Artists Foundation Filmmaker Award, and a 2016 Tobin Award for Artistic Excellence.
Hy Thurman is originally from Tennessee and now resides in Alabama. At the age of 17 in the 1960s, Hy settled in Chicago's Uptown community, a predominantly southern white community. There he became a community organizer and co-founder of the Young Patriots Organization - a group of displaced southern white youth - and created services in health care, breakfast for children programs and fought urban renewal plans to destroy the homes of the southern white residents. Hy was a co-founder of the Original Rainbow Coalition made up of the Young Lords, Young Patriots, and the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party that fought for self determination of the people in their communities.
Hy also founded Emerald City, the first drug abuse program on Chicago's northside and co-founded the Uptown People's Center of Northeastern Illinois University to recruit poor residents to complete a college education. He received a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology in 1973. He has also worked as a gang intervention worker and a school base director for Alternatives Youth Service Agency. He is presently working to reboot the Young Patriots and make their forgotten history available to everyone.
Henry “Poison” Gaddis is a native of the South Side of Chicago. He was born on Texas Independence Day in 1951 as the eighth child of Bowen Sr., a laborer, and Mary a homemaker.
In the fall of 1968 while enrolled as a freshman at Northeastern Illinois State College, Gaddis traveled to East St. Louis, IL to attend the Illinois Chapter of the NAACP State Convention. Also in attendance was the newly-elected Chairman of NAACP Youth Council Fred Hampton. As a result of this encounter and impressed by Hampton’s eloquence and world view, Gaddis agreed to join the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP) as soon as an office was established in Chicago. “Poison” went on to serve on the Chicago Central Staff of the ILBPP. He held the rank of Lieutenant on the Field Cadre under the direct command of Field Secretary Robert “Bob” Lee Jr. His functional specialty in the ILBPP was organizing and maintaining relations between the member organizations of the Rainbow Coalition on the North Side of Chicago. Henry Gaddis received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Texas Southern University, and a Master of Public and International Affairs from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He has done further studies in Comparative Government in several European countries and has also studied at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico (Mexico City, DF), Universidad Central de Venezuela and the US Department of State Foreign Service Institute. He is a recipient of the Franzheim Synergy Trust Fellowship in International Affairs.
Gaddis has traveled to six continents and worked in several countries and served as an advocate for issues affecting the African Diaspora. Most notably as a volunteer consultant to Afro-Venezuelan fishing cooperatives and combating racism on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast.