Twenty to Life: The Life and Times of John Sinclair (2007)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Social History  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Michigan native and counter-cultural icon John Sinclair is the subject of filmmaker Steve Gebhardt's detailed documentary tracing the legendary White Panther Party chairman from his small town America roots to his later life in Amsterdam. While some call Sinclair a poet, those who know his story realize that it runs far deeper than that. A performing artist, radio broadcaster, music journalist, and record producer among many other things, Sinclair emerged as a cultural activist in the 1960s due to his efforts in founding the Detroit Artists Workshop, his stint managing the MC-5, and his role as the Chairman of the While Panther Party. In 1969, Sinclair was arrested and sentenced to nine-and-a-half to ten years in prison for giving two marijuana joints to an undercover policewoman. As a result John Lennon wrote a song about Sinclair, who was subsequently released and successfully had Michigan marijuana laws changed for good on appeal. Over the course of the following decade, Sinclair became more prominent than ever in the Detroit area as a community organizer and cultural activist. In addition to producing the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festivals, he also founded the Detroit Jazz Center while consistently giving back to the community through various projects and organizations. In 1991 Sinclair relocated to New Orleans and became a popular broadcaster on WWOZ-FM, later relocating to the Netherlands just five years after being invited to Amsterdam by High Times Magazine to serve as the High Priest at the Cannabis Cup in 1998.

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Keywords

activism, imprisonment, life-story, marijuana, musician, poet, underground [counterculture]