For this past year I have been documenting and conducting interviews in the coastal south around heirs property and Gullah and Geechee heritage preservation. This work has been impacted by the devastating event that occurred on June 17th. My parents left Mother Emanuel minutes before the killer arrived. This is personal. My father, whom I had been following over the course of my documentation this past year has been appointed the interim pastor at Emmanuel.
Infused throughout this story is the faith and resilience of my ancestors, the Gullah people, looking in the face of adversity from a state that has repeatedly used policy and intimidation to silence them. I now see that the history of black civic participation both acts as a source of great pride as well as – at times through it’s loss – exemplifies the tragedy of years fraught with subjugation. I see this land as a site of reckoning, which begs the question: Can peace be made with this physical site of both our bondage and our heritage?
This topic possesses an urgency for me as a filmmaker but also for the country at large as we seek to understand how so many black communities have arrived at their current state of cultural and economic disenfranchisement. Even more importantly: How will we reconstruct the country to truly be inclusive? My intention for this film is for it to serve as a confrontation; engaging the ways history plays and replays itself in every moment, giving us the ability to continue to reinterpret, redefine and uncover who we are.