Marshall Hatch, a 2010 graduate of Bates College, discusses “All These Sons,” the 2021 documentary in which he is featured. Hatch appeared Sunday at the Lewiston college. Joe Charpentier/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Bates College welcomed alumnus Marshall Hatch Jr. back to campus Sunday to introduce “All These Sons,” a Joshua Altman and Bing Liu documentary about the embroiled West and South sides of Chicago.

The film’s viewing marked the start of the college’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is observed Monday.

From West Garfield Park on the west side of Chicago, Hatch graduated from Bates in 2010 and went on to the University of Chicago to obtain a double master’s in divinity and social work. He is an ordained minister, following in the footsteps of his father, Marshall Hatch Sr., at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in his hometown.

Hatch co-founded the MAAFA Redemption Project, a life skills and job training program that takes young men in the West Garfield Park area and helps them come to terms with their situations and the conditions of their neighborhood. Maafa is a Kiswahili word meaning “a great disaster” and describes the African slave trade.

“All These Sons” follows MAAFA’s second cohort of program members and two other programs helping young men at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence. The organization graduated its sixth cohort recently.

“Ever heard of Chiraq?” Hatch asked.


Many in the audience nodded.

“We need to tell a different story about Chicago and about these young men,” he said. “In 2013, there was a father and son, both named Samuel Walker. The son was killed one weekend and the father was killed the next weekend.

“If you read the Chicago Tribune, in each case they were both classified as documented gang members. It was that phrase that set off a fire in me because it immediately dehumanized them. It justified the killings, in a way. It let the reader off the hook about society’s responsibility to each other. That’s the story I wanted to tell.”

Hatch said the thesis of the film is that the pathologies and maladies of those communities in Chicago do not define them. The film is about taking the audience into the lives of three young men, and more, as they grapple with where they are from, what has happened to them and how the system has failed them.

“The purpose of the film is to get you to see the human beings behind the camera,” he said, “and to empathize with that human being, such that terms like Chiraq fall away and you’re able to put yourself in each of these brothers’ shoes.”

MAAFA’s housing model brings together men from opposing cliques, which most inaccurately call gangs, in many ways. They room together, they sit at the same table together and they write their memoirs together.

In other circumstances, many of the program’s members would clash and most likely become involved in violence. The program helps guide them to a more meaningful place in life, where they become productive members in their communities.

“This film will take you into the truth,” Hatch said, “because it will allow these young men to speak for themselves about their conditions, about their neighborhood, about what they’re grappling with.”

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