'When We Rise' Is A Timely Look At The Past

by Alaina Urquhart-White
Phil Bray/ABC

In the current political and social climate, it is truly necessary to have films and television shows that inspire viewers to rise up and demand change when we're concerned about the country's future. ABC's upcoming miniseries, When We Rise, is exactly that inspiration. When it premieres on Monday, Feb. 27, the four-night series will tell the stories of actual LGBT men and women who fought for the rights of different marginalized groups over the course of decades. What makes the new series even more powerful is the fact that When We Rise is based on a true story.

As explained on the ABC website, When We Rise chronicles the fight of real-life LGBT activist Cleve Jones, women's rights leader Roma Guy, African-American community organizer Ken Jones, and transgender activist Cecilia Chung. Each of these key characters is played by two different actors, since over the course of eight hours and four night, the miniseries shows their efforts from the '70s to as recently as 2013. However, that doesn't mean every single scene will be true to life. In a recent interview with the Daily Beast, the real Cleve Jones said he and the other activists being portrayed are, "OK with details of lives being substantially fictionalized as long as the movement narrative is accurate. ... We hope it is."

Similarly, Cleve told the New York Times that though some details of his life aren't accurate, it properly depicts the themes of the movement. "It could be truthful without being accurate," he also told the newspaper.

When We Rise couldn't be coming at a more significant time, as LGBT rights are at stake, along with the rights of other groups. In the same New York Times interview, the president of ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey, said that the timing didn't affect the story because it's a true account. "That doesn’t change things for us," he said. "This is a true story involving actual events, involving real people. We are not coming at this from a political place or trying to make a political statement. This feels like an emotional story that we just want to share."

But at a time like this, it's important to examine history so that we don't repeat it. You can do that by seeing the "truthful" story of these incredible people when When We Rise airs on Feb. 27, March 1, March 2, and March 3 at 9 p.m.