The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)


No Umbrella - Election Day in the City screening with Freedom Summer. A Q&A follows the screening.

Director: Laura Paglin. Length: 23 minutes

The title of this up-close account of African-Americans trying to vote in Ward 7 of Cleveland's Lower East Side during the elections of 2004 comes from an oft-repeated saying of long-time councilwoman Fannie Lewis in the film: "It's like we prayed for rain and didn't bring no umbrellas."

It's heartening that, despite the rain that day and the lack of proper voting equipment, the citizens stay in line for ridiculous hours, determined that their voices be heard. "We're going to stand here until times get better," one woman says.

Not heartening at all is election officials' obvious indifference to the voters of Ward 7, as the board of elections repeatedly fails to deliver needed inserts for voting booths. No Umbrella - Election Day in the City makes a convincing case for an overhaul of this country's voting process.