13th & The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

October 19, 2016

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (TCFSY) used buzz around 13th, a documentary film about the relationship between slavery and disproportionate incarceration of African Americans, to discuss its work on youth criminal justice.

Photo Credit: Netflix

About the Film:

A Netflix original production, this thought-provoking documentary brings together scholars, activists and politicians to analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom. It explores key events in American history that are linked to this issue, including chattel slavery, the war on drugs and the civil rights movement.

Strategic Aim:

  • Spotlight a problem: Although just 5 percent of the world’s population lives in the U.S., the country incarcerates about 22 percent of the global population. 13th charts the explosive growth of America’s prison population — from 200,000 prisoners in 1970 to more than 2 million today — which is disproportionately African American. Seen through the lens of history, the issue of excessive incarceration is brought into stark focus.

Take advantage of buzz around Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary film  “13th” about  the connection between slavery and mass incarceration to discuss its work on youth criminal justice.

What We Did:


Live tweet. TCSFY, AndACTION and partners leveraged the popularity of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary film to create a Twitter conversation highlighting its advocacy in youth criminal justice.


After attending an AndACTION webinar that introduced them to the power of pop culture for change — and particularly the concept of the pop culture pivot — TCFSY (@theCFSY) worked with AndACTION to develop content and a tool kit to host a live tweet of 13th. They invited two partner organizations, the Campaign for Youth Justice and the Justice Policy Institute, which used the tool kit to participate. During the Twitter chat, TCFSY’s advocates and experts shared their thoughts on the film using the tool kit as a guide, and invited followers to watch and live tweet along with them and submit questions using the hashtags #13th and #TCFSY.


The Twitter chat was a success. Film interviewees like social justice activist Van Jones retweeted TCFSY’s Executive Director Jody Kent Lavy to his more than 614,000 followers and Malkia Cyril, director of the Center for Media Justice, retweeted TCFSY’s Advocacy Director James Dold. What’s more, the film’s director Ava DuVernay herself liked one of TCFSY’s tweets. Traffic to @theCFSY Twitter account increased by 162 percent the week of the live tweet. This level of interaction gave TCFSY more visibility with an audience that’s interested in their issue.


Want to learn how to use the pop culture pivot and other strategies? Thanks to our generous donors, AndACTION can assist philanthropic, nonprofit and other social good organizations in arranging Twitter chats, film screenings and many other meaningful activities to spark change, possibly replicating successes such at the one described above. Our services are free of charge. For more information and support, please email us at info@andaction.org.