‘Two American Families’ Sneak Preview and Panel

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A scene from the 2000 PBS Special "Surviving the Good Times" with Bill Moyers.

Since 1992, Bill Moyers has been following the story of two hard-working families in Milwaukee — one black, one white. A remarkable portrait of perseverance in the face of factory shutdowns and job loss, Two American Families, which airs on Frontline on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, raises unsettling questions about the changing nature of the U.S. economy and the fate of a declining middle class.

On June 20 in Washington, D.C., Frontline hosted a special preview and discussion of the film to explore what happened to the American dream, and whether current policies are enough to help the millions of Americans living on the edge of poverty.

Guest panelists included Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Tom Casciato and Kathleen Hughes, who produced Two American Families; Erin Currier, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project; Margaret Simms, a senior fellow at The Urban Institute; Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the new book Who Stole the American Dream; and Scott Winship, fellow, Brookings Institution.

The discussion was moderated by Frontline Executive Producer David Fanning. Watch the event below.

Recorded June 20th, 2013.

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  • Grampie R

    This program addresses the #1 problem in America today — 1 in 5 Children in the U.S. live in poverty today. Meanwhile Congressional leaders discuss how much to CUT food stamps as part of the massive Agriculture Bill.

  • Arianna

    I lost sound for about 5 minutes into the panel discussion. Can that be fixed?

  • Anonymous

    Could the loss of sound of the panel discussion be the result of the PBS Koch Brothers’ editing? I do not trust PBS anymore.

  • moderator

    Hi Arianna,

    Sorry about that, there must have been a technical glitch and we do apologize.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Arianna

    As a child growing up in a poverty area and having lived much of my life, despite college etc. in or near the poverty line. I taught primary grades 1-3 in AK. We had about 80%of our kids on lunch assistance. We kept snack and juice in the classroom just to help those out who’d not had breakfast. Then we instituted free breakfasts. Then a local businessman started a free dinner diner. It makes a huge difference if a child is hungry, warm, safe and treated with kindness. My best opening line in the social justice advocating I do know is, “Hi, My name is Arianna, I have 3 college degrees, and I have been homeless and relied on food aid.” Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, or for how long, you can’t beat the system that thrives on beating you down. ALEC and its’ ilk are NOT friends to homo sapiens/humanity because they are corporations devoted to the almighty dollar and are only “human” in court when they BUY our tongues!

  • cgmcle

    According to Richard Wilkinson in his TED talk (search wilkinson ted income inequality), the American Dream is alive and well — in Denmark. In his presentation, he talks about a large variety of individual and societal dysfunctions that result not from a nation’s average income, but from the magnitude of the gap between the income of the top 20% and of the bottom 20% within a nation.

  • Anonymous

    Why is this only 28 minutes long? THIS IS REALLY SLOPPY or deliberately misleading to only post 28 minutes.

  • Arianna

    Thanks, I’ve been offline for a while. I just want you to know that I think this is one of the best moderated sites I’ve ever seen. Keep up the good work.

  • moderator

    Thanks for saying so! And thank you for being part of the community.

    sean @ moyers

  • Houx

    I can’t comment on this show or these two families, since I haven’t watch it and will not. However, I watched you on Charlie Rose and not once did either one of you comment on the break down of the traditional family , drugs and alcohol, out of wed-lock births, and single mothers which all have contribute to the demise of this country. Most people have no morals anymore and live with out any responsibility for their choices. My thought is people are still better off here then anywhere else. You two make to much money for just talking. Give up your wealth if your so self-righteous. Or go live in Bagdad.