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'Black Man' film tells story of Muskegon natives

As we kickoff Black History Month coverage on 13 ON YOUR SIDE, there’s a new documentary premiering this weekend in Muskegon called “Black Man.”

MUSKEGON, Mich. — As we kickoff Black History Month coverage on 13 ON YOUR SIDE, there’s a new documentary premiering this weekend in Muskegon called “Black Man.” It’s a film created by Muskegon natives that tells the stories of Muskegon natives.

“I’ve never seen anything like this on the screen with Black men and it’s a bit of a rollercoaster. It pulls out emotions and all that stuff,” said Jon Covington, the man behind the movie. 

He said he came up with the idea after interviewing men included in a past exhibit at the Muskegon Museum of Art. That exhibit was called “SONS” and featured portraits of Black men from Muskegon while exploring how they perceive themselves and how they’re perceived by others.

“As I was listening to these guys, I thought these stories need to be heard,” said Covington.

Along with Covington, Jim Tyler co-founded the production company behind the film.

“Black history is American history the same way these Black men – they’re just very human. It’s just a human story,” said Tyler, who adds that “you certainly don’t have to be Black or a man to appreciate what these Black men actually spoke about.”

Glen “J.R.” Gray is a Muskegon business owner included in the film who said, “The movie is really out there to show the grind, the environment, the mental state of what it is to be a Black man in America.”

Covington furthered that description to say it’s “a kaleidoscopic view of these conversations, snippets of these conversations that I have with several men, almost three dozen of them aged between 21 and 91, sharing their thoughts on everything: Life, love, longings, losses and their thoughts on America.”

Gray wants viewers to, “Try to put yourself in our shoes as a Black man – for me, as a young Black man – to see what it is like to be in an everyday struggle, some of the different things that you may take for granted that we take as a privilege and able to take that and do more than just watch but actually feel this movie. Really make it a lifechanging experience and share it with the world.”

“We’re all better when we know more about our neighbors whether they’re Black, white, whatever they may be. It’s just that this is the first time we’ve seen something like this, in particular with Black men,” said Covington.

The final version of “Black Man” is being screened for the first time on Sunday, Feb. 5 at the Frauenthal Center in Muskegon as the county kicks off its Black History Month celebrations.

The showing starts at 3 p.m. and is free to the public.

The movie is also being shown at events in cities across the country.

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