We Are The Radical Monarchs
Follows the Radical Monarchs, a group of young girls of color on the frontlines of social justice.
Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Produced by Katie Flint, Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Executive Producer: Grace Lee
Editors: Arielle Amsalem, Katie Flint
Director of Photography: Clare Major
Music by: Gingger Shankar, William Stanbro
A LadyLike Films Production
[Note: Community screenings of WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"In a historical moment that often feels devastating...this film has left my heart full and my hopes high for a just, equitable future." Dr. Sonia M. Rosen, Education, Univ. of Pennsylvania
Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS documents the Radical Monarchs — an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Its members earn badges for completing units on social justice including being an LGBTQ ally, the environment, and disability justice.
The group was started by two fierce, queer women of color, Marilyn Hollinquest and Anayvette Martinez, as a way to address and center Anayvette's daughter's experience as a young brown girl. Their work is anchored in the belief that adolescent girls of color need dedicated spaces and that the foundation for this innovative work must also be rooted in fierce inter-dependent sisterhood, self-love, and hope.
The film follows the first troop of Radical Monarchs for over three years, until they graduate, and documents the co-founders' struggle to respond to the needs of communities across the US and grow the organization after the viral explosion of interest in the troop's mission to create and inspire a new generation of social justice activists.
Grade Level: 4 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2020
Copyright Date: 2018
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-47-X
"If you're looking for signs of hope and are struggling to believe real, lasting change is possible, you will find it in this joyful, powerful, uplifting documentary. The Radical Monarchs are many things: the dream of two queer feminist women of color who want for girls what they did not have growing up; a collection of passionate, willful young activists centered in their power; and a direct challenge to our assumptions about what girls can and should be doing with their natural curiosity, sharp minds, and innate sense of injustice. This bold intergenerational project is the deepest expression of love lived out loud."
Lyn Mikel Brown, Professor of Education, Colby College, Co-founder, Hardy Girls Healthy Women and SPARK Movement, Author, Powered By Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists
"Uplifting...Timely...Most impressive are the girls themselves. Over three years, the girls grow from curious pre-tweens to experienced social justice activists. If movements are judged by embodying the change they seek, the first generation of Radical Monarchs is a heartening success."
Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times
"Whether they are clenching their fists high up in the air at a Trans Lives Matter march or wearing their brown berets and vests showcasing colorful badges like 'Black Lives Matter' and 'Radical Beauty,' the documentary offers real hope about a future generation of fierce Brown and Black girls ready to put in the work to make social justice more than just a dream."
Luis Luna, Latino Rebels
"Honest and hopeful...Viewers get to see what empowered girlhood - centered in intersectionality, inclusivity and strength - looks like in action."
Jane Claire Hervey, Forbes
"This illuminating and inspiring film shows what powerful political education with children looks like. Radical Monarchs exposes the challenges of securing funding to scale social justice work - even in the face of significant community demands. It showcases the radical beauty of young Black and Latinx girls finding their place in the long arc of the moral universe. It is a film that filled me with hope for a more just tomorrow."
Jerusha O. Conner, Professor of Education and Counseling, Villanova University, Author, The New Student Activists
"Sweet, compassionate documentary...It doesn't take a genius to see a handful of tween girls attaching the name 'radical' to their organization to realize this ain't your sister's Girl Scout troop - they are as woke as they are adorable."
Arnold Wayne James, Dallas Voice
"We Are the Radical Monarchs shows powerful examples of community activism, including the support and sacrifices necessary to engage in transformative leadership and teaching practices. This film contains important insights for educators, leaders, and activists on how young people can develop critical consciousness through group dialogue and collective action."
Lauren Leigh Kelly, Assistant Professor of Urban Teacher Education, Rutgers University
"We Are the Radical Monarchs illustrates the love, sweat and tears that goes into community organizing and social justice work. More than that, it shows the power of women's organizing - and especially the benefits of creating structures and spaces that uplift young women of color. I am ready to follow the lead of the brilliant young women who are the Radical Monarchs. The film's content is suited for a variety of courses in disciplines including Sociology, History, and Gender Studies."
Rachel Einwohner, Professor of Sociology and Political Science, Purdue University
"We Are the Radical Monarchs embodies what I love and value about Oakland. This documentary captures, not only the clear and hard work that the organizers and girls involved in Radical Monarchs put in, but the long history of Black and Brown organizing in the Bay Area, and the effort to fully realize the people who make this city what it is. A timely film."
Andreana Clay, Professor of Sociology and Sexuality Studies, San Francisco State University, Author, The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth Activism and Post-Civil Rights Politics
"We Are the Radical Monarchs highlights how young girls of color can create their own political communities, claim power, and act collectively toward their visions for a better world. This engaging film introduces viewers to the hard work and dedication of the activist founders of the organization, and foregrounds the joy, insight, and political capabilities of girls of color. It is a valuable addition to courses on social movements, youth politics, girlhood, and contemporary feminisms."
Jessica K. Taft, Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz, Author, The Kids Are in Charge and Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas
"In a time when change is both scrutinized and praised, We Are the Radical Monarchs puts the spotlight on the future leaders of America who can possibly neutralize all of that and truly bring progress to a divisive country."
Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline
"For those enticed by the drama of organizational start-up woes, particularly of the do-gooder kind, [the film] offers intriguing insights...The girls build the vision and the fortitude needed to organize, through their joyous first experiences of comradeship, all of which facilitated by the program's nurturing environment."
Mualimu Yoichi Collins, SF Weekly
"This is an enthralling narrative about women and girls of color leveraging their brilliance, passion, and sense of justice to ignite the collective radical imagination. We Are the Radical Monarchs embraces a vision of social justice work as the most authentic form of human connection, an embodiment of optimism and hope, and an expression of love for community. As a woman of color with two daughters of my own, I cried with joy and longing watching the Radical Monarchs project unfold. As an educator and scholar of leftist social movements, I'm excited by the possibilities the film offers for teachers, community organizers, and, most importantly, youth and young adults. In a historical moment that often feels devastating and difficult to navigate, this film has left my heart full and my hopes high for a just, equitable future."
Dr. Sonia M. Rosen, Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
"What Anayvette and Marilyn have planted as racially and ethnically rich activists, queer, West Coast, other/mothers, is a global model that doesn't need to be scaled up as much as it should be meaningfully rooted any/everywhere there is a cry for humanity and justice. This documentary allows us to follow their work in intimate partnerships with mothers, fathers, elders, businesses, coalitions, and long-standing institutions to serve Black and Brown girls. We get to see dozens of girls and women, just being themselves in the most liberatory ways possible and this reimaging of self - and society - is immeasurable. We Are the Radical Monarchs is a beautiful homage to what it means to love holistically, grow agency, work from ancestral knowledge, and act/teach as a co-conspirator."
M. Billye Sankofa Waters, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Univ of Washington-Tacoma, Founding Executive Director, Blackgirl Gold Unapologetic
"Wow! We Are the Radical Monarchs pushes ALL of us to see a world of radical possibilities for liberation through the eyes and coming-of-age stories of Black and Latinx girls. The film reveals that young girls can and do challenge the politics of the 21st century by building on the legacies of 1960s and 1970s liberation movements while finding their own voices and building their own legacies. Educators, parents, and organizers as well as historians and scholars of social movements and girlhood will walk away from this film with a sharper analysis of how and why young Black and Latinx girls can lead the charge for social change."
Dara Walker, Assistant Professor, African American Studies, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and History, Penn State University
DVDs include public performance rights.
DVD includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.
Host an in-person or virtual community screening!
Excellent educational resources from POV including:
Lesson Plans for Grades 6-8, 9-10, 11-12
Helpful Discussion Guide for community screening organizers
Great Reading Lists for adults and young adults of fiction and non-fiction
The Film's website
The Radical Monarchs' website
The Radical Monarchs' Facebook page
Articles about the Radical Monarchs:
In These Times
Awards and Festivals
National Broadcast on PBS's "POV"
Best Documentary, Seattle International Film Festival
Los Angeles Film Festival
San Francisco Film Festival
SXSW Film Festival
Traverse City Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Hawai'i International Film Festival
Nantucket Film Festival
Virginia Film Festival
Milwaukee Film Festival
Independent Film Festival, Boston
Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival
Frameline International LGBTQ+ Film Festival
Bentonville Film Festival
Montclair Film Festival
Reframe Film Festival
Athena Film Festival
Oak Cliff Film Festival
March on Washington Film Festival
CineMatters NY Social Justice Films Festival
Lost Weekend XII Film Festival
ACT Human Rights Film Festival
Rainbow Reels Film Festival
Bright Lights Film Festival
Cine Latino MSP Film Festival
Way Out West Film Festival
InsideOut LGBT Film Festival Toronto
Milwaukee Film Festival
Terre Des Femme Women's Film Festival
KDocs Film Festival
Spaces of Education Film Festivalette
Seoul International Women's Film Festival
Latino and Chicano Studies
Race and Racism
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... more Reviews
"[Has] the potential to provoke important discussions in the feminist classroom about girlhood as a particular kind of gendered social experience that intersects with other valences of social location...A provocative case study of girls' radical social justice activism in the United States in the wake of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the contemporary overt visibility of white nationalism."
Heather D. Switzer, Films for the Feminist Classroom
"Recommended...Positive and heartening. This reviewer watched it the day after Election Day 2020 and teared up a few times at a vision of a future where young women are filled with the confidence that their voices and experiences matter, and that they can contribute to a just, equitable society. When we see the troop roam the halls of the California state capitol to meet with assembly members, or speak at a city council meeting about gentrification and renter protections, or talk with a former member of the Black Panther Party about institutional racism and police brutality, we can be forgiven for thinking that things might just turn out all right."
Timothy Hackman, University of Maryland, Educational Media Reviews Online
"You can see their self-confidence grow with escalating comprehension of how the world really works and the challenges faced by those who don't fit a dominant straight white culture and its narrow standards...Filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton does a terrific job capturing, with robust energy, the group's activities and evolution over three years. Strongly recommended."
Tom Keogh, Video Librarian