Film Synopsis

Against All The Odds sheds light on the courage, problems and accomplishments of a most unique and remarkably challenged city.

The issues of poverty, race and economic devastation are searing in East St Louis, Illinois and America’s failure to deal with these issues on a national level comes home to roost in this remarkably challenged all Black city.

For Black Americans, in a country that profiles their failures with staggering statistics, effecting positive change on the local level is a daunting task. In the City of East St Louis, Illinois any change to raise the standard of living and provide services defies reality. This city has an incredible history of corporate riches rife with corruption, politics, and industrial greed, followed by White flight, so vast, that the city went from an 86% White population of 80,000 in 1950 to a 98% Black population of 40,000 in 1990.

These figures represent an incredible and unique problem; the African – American Community of East St Louis, Illinois was left to fend for themselves in an industrial wasteland that was so obsolete it was almost non-existent, in a city that was so corrupt there was no money to run it.

What has survived in East St Louis speaks to the depths of the human spirit, the fundamental need for human dignity, and the right to belong within a community, no matter what the circumstances. There are many African - Americans in East St Louis who won’t give up the fight. They have witnessed extreme racial prejudice, isolation, segregation, lower pay, poor schools, widespread poverty, corruption and joblessness. Yet, a spirit has survived--a spirit of community and an example of grassroots efforts that deserves to be honored and taught.

These grassroots efforts hold the city together from the inside; they give hope to the young and sustenance to the old. Their work is done wholeheartedly and selflessly. They work against almost insurmountable odds, but they never stop trying, they never give up and every small success brings hope. Their efforts are heroic in every sense of the word. But the outside world sees only failure and unfortunately, so often, for as much care and love given, there is poverty, crime and distress to take it away.

Yet the successes, which are more important, go untold. These are the sad facts of an all Black city with no White corporate infrastructure, no infusion of economic growth and their race a constant hindrance.

Against All The Odds shows the positive side of this not-uncommon urban story and looks at a sincere and misunderstood African - American city that has real hopes for a better future. Against All The Odds strives to enlighten, enrich and educate a deluded public about the real issues of Race in this country and show why we must now face our inconsistencies and injustices and begin a new dialogue on a rich and important culture whose American experience is vastly misunderstood and overlooked.

To help tell the whole story of this complicated city, Against All The Odds utilizes a voice of God narrator in the form of a 15 year old African-American girl, Nettie, killed in the 1917 East St Louis Race Riot. She helps to guide the viewer through her city’s past and illuminate its presence.

Dubbed “The All American City”, in 1960 because of its large white middle class population, East Saint Louis, Illinois has morphed into a city with a completely different face. East Saint Louis today may have one of the rarest genuine cultures of our time, something uniquely authentic, with its own voice and logic and world view. No melting pot of people and cultures, no capitalist/corporate infrastructure –instead a monoculture, born out of a nation’s racial ignorance and the fundamental need to belong; where surviving and thriving are heroic efforts. Sleeping under the blanket of poverty, hidden from the view of a racist nation, there is a city that holds within its cultural bounds a most striking truth.

Against All The Odds looks deep into the heart of this amazing city and shows what might surprise many, bringing a new kind of image to this maligned city, with a new kind of hope.