Review: Netflix’s “Amend: The Fight for America” is a hopeful stroll through the US’ tough history

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A screenshot of the movie from Netflix. (Courtesy of Netflix)

by Jacob Sullivan, Staff Writer

“Amend: The Fight for America” is a limited documentary series on Netflix. The six-episode series covers the multifaceted struggle different groups of Americans have faced, and still face, in their fight for the 14th amendment to apply to them.

Archive footage and photos are employed for historical context. There is also an assortment of professors, civil rights attorneys and psychologists brought in to provide the audience some clarity, whether historical or conceptual. 

The series brings in a variety of actors and entertainers to bring life to the quotes used. Some included are Mahershala Ali, Laverne Cox and Pedro Pascal.

This fight has existed since the 14th amendment was ratified on July 28, 1868. In short, the 14th amendment grants rights to “any person born or naturalized” on United States soil. Although the country may not have made true on this promise, the vagueness of the text has always allowed progress to occur.

Amend” makes it clear to the viewer this progress is made by the people. The series makes note of the many key figures who have pushed this amendment for all Americans. Some of the towering figures include Fredrick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall and of course Martin Luther King Jr.

The first three episodes cover African-Americans’ struggle for the fourteenth amendment to apply to them. The Black struggle in the United States is surely the oldest struggle for dignity and representation this country has seen. 

Viewers see how this battle evolved over time during the Civil War, reconstruction and the Jim Crow South. This culminates on-screen with the March on Washington, but offscreen continues to this very day.

Episode four covers how women have fought for inclusion within the 14th amendment. This fight is over 100 years old, beginning in the early 20th century. The movement had reached its full swing by the time the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced and is still popular to this very day.

The ERA stalled unfortunately but remains a point of inspiration for many.

The fifth episode chronicles the LGBTQ community’s battle for the 14th amendment to apply to them. Keith Obergefeld, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court case, is brought in to talk about the decades-long personal fight he and his husband faced in Ohio. 

This battle ends with the legendary 2015 Supreme Court ruling the right to marry applies to same-sex couples. 

The final episode discusses what the United States is made of, immigrants. Immigration has been a point of contention in the United States for hundreds of years. The series makes note of how immigrants had to face a system of discrimination in the Southwest nicknamed “Juan Crow” due to its structural similarities to the laws of the Jim Crow South.

The struggle for the fourteenth to apply to immigrants is still alive and well. The series makes note of the Trump administration’s policy of child separation, showing how the era of Juan Crow discrimination has just evolved into a new chapter of brutality. Despite this, progress is still constantly fought for within the immigrant community. 

“Amend: The Fight for the 14th” is a solid chronicle of the fight many different groups have taken for this amendment to actually apply to them. It is a consuming, educational six hours that makes the viewer aware of how change happens in the United States; and how change is constantly met with pushback that always fuels the fight for true freedom and justice for all.

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