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More Than a Movie: Crowd-Funded ‘Black Sun’ Seeks to Revitalize Interest in Science

A solar eclipse viewed from Bangalore, India in 2010.
Photo courtesy
A solar eclipse viewed from Bangalore, India in 2010.

Merriam-Webster defines “eclipse” both as “the total or partial obscuring of one celestial body by another,” and “a falling into obscurity or decline.”

Dr. Jarita Holbrook hopes her new documentary about the former will prevent the latter from claiming young America’s interest in science.    

Dr. Holbrook is an astrophysicist, anthropologist and filmmaker. Her current project, “Black Sun,” is about two astrophysicists, Dr. Alphonse Sterling and Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, and their journey around the world chasing solar eclipses. However, the film is about more than just two globetrotting scientists, it’s also about the revitalization of American youth’s interest in the STEM field –science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – and specifically, in minority communities.

Holbrook and co-producer Carla Jackson believe immersion in the STEM field is a great way to prepare students for the world and to teach them valuable life skills. “Everything I learned, when it came to working as a team, collaboration … all of those things are things I learned from math and science,” Jackson says. “There’s nothing I can’t use today.”

By giving students these examples of successful African-American leaders in their field, the filmmakers behind “Black Sun” hope to inspire minority students around the country to achieve.  As Jackson says, “the whole point is, we want you to recognize that the sky’s the limit if you buckle down and make sure you don’t allow people to discourage you.” Once the documentary is completed, the filmmakers plan to exhibit the documentary at colleges and K through 12 facilities around the U.S., with an emphasis on black and historically underserved schools.

But making the film isn’t free. The first leg of the documentary calls for sending four filmmakers, including two University of Texas students, to Tokyo. It’s there that doctors Sterling and Oluseyi will be viewing the May 20 solar eclipse.

To fund the project, "Black Sun" has a page on online fundraising platform Kickstarter. The project has only three more days to reach its goal of $10,000, and currently has raised $8,622 to fund the trip.

You can help learn more about “Black Sun” on the film’s Kickstarter page.