The other day I was taking a long drive and decided to listen to the ‘Crime Junkie’ podcast. I scrolled through my options until I saw a name that rang a bell to me. The episode was called “MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF: Kendrick Johnson”. I couldn’t figure out why that name sounded so familiar, so I listened to the podcast and remembered hearing parts of this story. A black 17 year-old boy is found in his high school gym, dead and rolled up in a gym mat. That was as much as I ever remembered hearing, but listening to the rest of the podcast there is so much more to the story. When I saw that there was now a documentary with interviews of his family and friends, I had to watch it.
‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ is a heart-wrenching documentary that sheds light on the race-based injustice in our legal system at the expense of a family’s closure. Throughout the film you learn the details and inconsistencies in Johnson’s case, as well as the history associated with the part of the south he is from. This documentary dove much deeper in this case than anything I have seen about it before, and will hopefully act as a beacon for change.
My favorite part of this documentary was seeing how Kendrick’s parents are not going to let anything get in the way of them finding out what really happened to their son. Kendrick’s mom, Jaqueline, is particularly incredible. You can see the hurt and pain, but you all see how she rises above and will do anything for her family.
One thing that I wish ‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ did, is play more of the Devils Advocate. Kendrick’s death does not seem like an accident, nor do I think it was, but I feel like if some time was spent acknowledging other theories and disproving them it would feel like more of a complete thought. I also found some of the pacing to be a little slow, with the flashback’s to the past feeling abrupt at some points, but the history itself was very interesting and eye-opening.
Basically, please watch this documentary and educate yourself on a terrible tragedy and it’s mishandled case. It can be hard to watch, and it does go into some gory details, but there are things that need to be seen and not turned away from.
‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ is now available on Digital and Video on Demand and in theaters October 2021.