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Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story

Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story is a 2007 documentary film, produced and directed by Bill Kavanagh. The story follows three Yonkers, New York families from the 1970s to the 1990s as they navigated a protracted and bitter confrontation in the city over housing and school desegregation. The documentary also recounts the heroic efforts of grassroots activists to keep the battle alive to address racial isolation and housing discrimination in Yonkers, as well as the infamous 1988 confrontation between the Federal courts and the City of Yonkers.[1] Westchester County civil rights activist Winston Ross is among those portrayed in the film, which details his youth in Yonkers' Runyon Heights neighborhood and his years in the city's public schools.

Brick by Brick:
A Civil Rights Story
Brick by Brick, A Civil Rights Story (documentary 2007).jpg
movie poster
Directed byBill Kavanagh
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
  • Bill Kavanagh
  • Linda Porto
Editor(s)Sylke Froechtenigt
Running time53 min
Production company(s)Kavanagh Productions Inc
Picture formatNTSC
Original release2007 WNET
External links
Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story

Lawrence Downes of the New York Times described the documentary as "a sober warning about the present day." Downes asserted that, "America — never mind Yonkers — still grapples with unsettled issues of poverty and race, and until that conundrum is resolved, it will keep reasserting itself in new and troubling ways."

A dramatization of the 1988 confrontation is encapsulated in the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero (2015), largely based on the Lisa Belkin non-fiction book.[2] Many of the political actors and characters in Show Me a Hero are portrayed in the original documentary, including Nick Wasicsko, the youngest mayor in the city's history, who figured prominently in the 1988 crisis.

Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story premiered on WNET in February 2007[3] and was widely shown on public television stations and film festivals nationwide over the following years.


  1. ^ James Feron (4 August 1988) First Contempt Fine Is Paid by Yonkers Over Housing Plan. The New York Times retrieved August 7, 2015
  2. ^ Belkin, Lisa. Show Me a Hero: A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race, and Redemption. Boston: Little, Brown, 1999. ISBN 978-0-316-08805-3 OCLC 39811925 retrieved August 7, 2015
  3. ^ Lawrence Downes (18 February 2007) Bricks and Boundaries. New York Times retrieved August 9, 2015

External linksEdit