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My Personal Moviemaking Project

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   One single image lifted from an underexposed frame exposed on a roll of 8 mm movie film shot by her father in the 1950s.

   After being heavily manipulated by photo software, it revealed an Anglo child positioned behind the shoulder of an Indigenous teenaged girl.

   That's all she physically had to go on.

   The images woven into the child's memory were far more detailed and in her adult mind, the recollections are dreamlike yet powerfully grounded in an ancient, wordless wisdom.

   In the winter of 1955, "Laura", a 16-year-old Pima native, was contracted out from the Albuquerque Indian School as a nanny to an infant Anglo baby, Christi. During their three years together, Laura embedded an indelible impression that's lasted a lifetime.

   Six decades later, Christi, is determined to find out what became of her first friend and unravel the meaning of the moments shared between the two.

    Looking For Laura is the story of her quest to visually document her search for the Indigenous wise woman who embedded the questions she's investigated in her research. Laura not only set the course of Christi's inner life but also placed a throbbing thorn that drives her to give a 21st century voice to the sage guidance of the Akimel O'odham.


My Personal Storycrafting Project


   On a sweltering July night in 1964, I sat in the backseat of our Pontiac sedan next to my grandmother and little brother. My dad was in the driver's seat and my mom next to him. We all watched as a large wooden cross was set on fire. It burned brightly against the Murrells Inlet, South Carolina night. People in white hoods and robes howled epithets into the smoke. We were on vacation and decided to drive south that evening from Myrtle Beach to eat fried shrimp at a place called One-Eyed Jacks.

   That night never left my mind for long.

   In 2010, I returned to the town to interview Genevieve Peterkin, an author and daughter-in-law of a colorful writer from the 20s. Genevieve asked me to call her "Sista" just like all her friends did. I was honored. Before the interview began, she asked me if I'd ever been to Murrells Inlet before.

   I told her about what I'd witnessed there, sitting in the car with my family.

   Sista had also been watching the spectacle. Not more than spitting distance from where our car was parked. She told me such a thing had never happened before. Never happened again since that night when we both witnessed it.


My Personal Storycrafting Project

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   On the morning of January 1, 1863, there was a celebration of freedom that is arguably the most sincere and hopeful of any ever held in the United States of America. Yet this powerful and significant event is virtually unrecorded in history textbooks. There simply has never been a story quite like the one that happened on New Year's Day beside old Fort Frederick, on a South Carolina barrier island called Port Royal.

   There is not another place in America where people from many diverse walks of life, worked together toward the accomplishment of a single goal: The immediate emancipation of the enslaved.

   The details of this transformational event, embedded inside the Port Royal Experiment, is a 60-minute docudrama targeted for PBS and other web-based distribution platforms. The project explores a pivotal  - and sorely overlooked - moment in the story of America when a perfect storm was created to usher in the immediate freedom of thousands of enslaved people just two years into the divisive Civil War. 

   A remarkable man named Sergeant Prince Rivers, is the on-screen narrator who walks us through the 24-hours from the last day the sun sets on slavery as a shameful American institution and into his first day of governmentally sanctioned freedom. In a series of flashbacks, he introduces us to the committed individuals and the exceptional circumstances that set the stage for what the renown Southern scholar, Willie Lee Rose, termed the "Rehearsal for Reconstruction". 


My Historical Movie Project

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   John Ogden (1824-1910) was more than just a Unionist. He was a committed abolitionist who believed that social justice was something worth using his own two hands to fight to achieve. He wrote, "every child, white, red or black, male or female, bond or free, rich or poor, high or low, domestic or foreign, has an inalienable right to education."

   To back up his words, he enlisted in the Civil War. For three and half years as a Union soldier, and later as an officer in a Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment, he waged a bloody battle for his beliefs.
   In the spring of 1864, he was captured, sent to a muddy hole of a Confederate prison on the western banks of the Congaree River outside Columbia, South Carolina. There he, along with hundreds of other starving prisoners spent his days plotting his escape. 

   In November of 1864, he and another captive successfully slipped past their exhausted Confederate captors. For two weeks, Ogden and his companion fought a different battle against the bone-chilling wind and wet of the southern winter swamp as they inched closer to, what they'd heard in gossip, was the overthrow of Atlanta by Union General Sherman. 

  During their harrowing two week experience, until they were eventually recaptured, Ogden kept a diary in which he chronicled his meeting a most remarkable 94-year old enslaved woman known only to him as "Granny". As the obvious matriarch of the "swamp plantation", situated next to the Savannah River, Granny sheltered Ogden and his companion. He writes of the astonishing compassion shothe entire village who lived all their lives as property and the tenacity with which they looked forward to the day they would be free.

   After the war ended, John Ogden joined the Freedman's Bureau and joined two other men who founded Fisk College: An ode to Granny and those who hid him from his enemies.

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