Renzo Gracie: Legacy

Terrell and Phil Lamarr
Terrell and Phil Lamarr (Photo credit: Quinn in San Diego)

I just finished watching a movie “Legacy” a documentary by Tod Lending that told the remarkable story of three generations of Black women who recovered from a family tragedy to make important changes in their lives. From a website about “Legacy” I found this information. “The film was awarded the Reel Screen Innovation in Documentary Award, was nominated for a national Emmy and two IDA awards and was broadcast internationally. In addition, LEGACY inspired the creation and passing of a federal bill entitled: The Legacy Act of 2003. This bill provides low-income housing to grandparents raising grandchildren.”

In its way the movie helped make possible for other people to make changes in their lives.  The movie began with the murder of Terrell the 14-year-old son  of a drug addicted mother and the one on whom the family had placed much of its hopes. He was the “Golden Child” in their Chicago family who was seen as their best bet to break out of poverty. Terrell had an argument with a boy at the basketball court one day in September and the next day the boy he had argued with came back and shot him as he was walking home.

The movie title “Legacy” refers to the resilience that his death inspired him family to find inside of themselves. The addicted mother completed a drug treatment program, got a job and was finally able to afford an apartment for herself and her children. Her sister got a job and completed her GED  on the path toward becoming a teacher. Her daughter was the first in the family to graduate from high school, and then college and married her high school sweetheart.  She made a conscious choice to postpone the decision about having children until after she completed her education. This was her effort to break the cycle that had trapped her mother and her grandmother into being single uneducated low-income mothers. She wanted her children to know their father and for him to be there in their lives.

There is a strong religious message throughout the movie: attending a Catholic high school, being in a traditional 12 step program and having the big church wedding at the end. I have no problem with that emphasis. This was the faith of this family and it helped them find the way to change. Not everyone uses religion, but these people did. I hope that their story inspired others to use the help that is available in our communities to better their lives. That is why I am passing along “The Legacy” to reach more people.