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Directed by Muta’Ali (Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee) the film Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by a group of young white men in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Yusuf Hawkins’ death and the official response to it sparked outrage in New York, unleashing a torrent of racial tension and spurring tireless civil rights activism that exposed deep racial prejudices and inequities which continue to plague the country today.

Over 30 years later, the film gathers candid interviews with Yusuf’s family and friends, well-known community leaders, and those closest to the case — as well as archival footage, witness statements and more — to reflect on the tragedy and subsequent fight for justice that inspired and divided New York City.


Dive Deeper

Culture Closeup

Director Muta’Ali and President of Color of Change, Rashad Robinson unpack the story of Yusuf Hawkins and the “storm” that has engulfed our communities.

Celebrating Black Creators

In partnership with the American Black Film Festival and in celebration of Black creators, HBO brought together Director Muta'Ali, Janet Mock (writer, host, and transgender rights activist), Renny Cromwell (comedian and Internet personality), and Ikenna Mokwe (founder of Dope Black Art) to speak to the importance of Black creatives in a conversation hosted by Nischelle Turner of Entertainment Tonight.

Fathers to the Forefront

Nearing the August 23 anniversary of Yusuf Hawkin's death, prominent Black figures came together to speak on their experiences growing up as Black boys and expound on the shared Black fatherhood experience.

Listen. Understand. Act.

Host Jacqueline Stewart, director Muta’ Ali, Amir Hawkins and Civil Rights Leader Rev. Al Sharpton discuss the life of Yusuf Hawkins, the hate that killed him and the protests that shook Brooklyn and the nation.


For more information and support regarding racial justice, community activism and more, refer to these organizations.

Discussion Guide

Dive deeper into the film with this post-watch guide designed to engage critical thought.


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