Dennis Hicks received his MFA in painting from the University of Southern California amid the political and cultural chaos of 1968: half a million American soldiers still fought in Vietnam; Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated within two months of each other; and an inept Democratic administration lost the presidency to Richard Nixon. Hicks felt compelled to leave the isolation of his artist’s studio to co-create a film collective, Los Angeles Newsreel, which distributed (and led discussions at the screenings of) documentaries –– a rare source of news with a radical point of view. Along with political organizing, Hicks oversaw the production of a film about the Los Angeles Black Panther Party. Repression was never released, but the rough-cut available here remains a vivid reminder of the oppression of those times. In 1971, Los Angeles Newsreel intentionally disbanded to take working class jobs. Hicks joined the assembly line at General Motors in South Gate, California.
In 1974, Hicks changed gears and became a teacher at Canfield/Crescent Heights Community School. The communities of these two elementary schools, 90% white and black respectively, had fought to be allowed to integrate at a time when school integration was hotly contested. Within a few years, he began producing films, filmstrips, slide shows and television shows which illuminated the educational and social advantages connected to racial desegregation. The filmstrips he produced (some with Dave Bell Associates) for teacher training and community development are included in this collection, as is one of the slide shows Hicks developed for the Los Angeles County School District: Housing and School Integration. Also available is one of the programs he produced for the public television show “28 Tonight” on immigration and bilingual education. This collection culminates with Coming of Age, an award-winning documentary about teenagers dealing with racial and sexual identity produced by Hicks and directed by Josh Hanig in 1983.
Hicks subsequently became a psychotherapist and had a private practice for 25 years. In 2007, he published a novel, Camera Obscura, a mystery-thriller involving the Catholic Church. In 2012, he retired in order to give full attention to writing. His memoir, Something’s Happening Here: A Memoir of the 60s, hauntingly evokes the period from 1964-1971. Another novel, Double Crossing America: A Memoir of 1866-67, fictionalizes a memoir by one of his 19th century ancestors. (Available in the fall of 2017) at DENNISHICKS.NET
The following is a list of his educational film output, which included filmstrips, television and a slide show..For his work with the LA Newsreel please click HERE
Coming Of Age (1982)
Documents a summer week when 180 young people of many different backgrounds gathered at a mountain camp with 25 counselors. Shows the young people sharing their opinions on vital interpersonal issues, such as racial prejudice, homosexuality and sexism.
Produced by Dennis Hicks and Josh Hanig. – 60 minutes Col
SCHOOLS/HOUSING : INTEGRATION IN CALIFORNIA slide show (1981)
28 TONIGHT – Episode date June 4, 1979
Part 2 in a look at immigration and desegregation.
SEXISM, STEREOTYPING & HIDDEN VALUES film strip (1978)
THE INTEGRATION PROCESS film strip (1978)
WHAT TO DO ABOUT RESEGREGATION film strip (1978)
DEALING WITH LEARNING STYLES AND LANGUAGES film strip (1978)
BUILDING EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT film strip (1978)
DESEGREGATION film strip (1978)