The HBCU Storytell- ers Project is a unique culmination of social justice activism and meaningful cinematic arts. With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Nate Parker Foundation Inc. made this dynamic program possible. These organizations partnered with the purpose of positioning young black storytelling at the forefront of the filmmaking industry in order to change culture through film.
The HBCU Storytellers Projects gave students the opportunity to learn the art of filmmaking while receiving a culturally enriching educational experience. This opportunity prepares students to use film for racial healing and reconciliation. After an 18-month program, fifteen HBCU students participated in The HBCU Storytellers Project and created an empowering four-part documentary series called 400 Years Later…’ Free-ish.’
The docuseries commemorates the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619. Students from Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State, and Virginia Union University diligently collaborated to create the docuseries. After an intensive and eye-opening experience of traveling throughout Virginia to historic sites in Jamestown, Port Comfort, Richmond, Charlottesville, and South Hampton, the students were encouraged to document their journey and to explore the lives of the first Africans arrival to the U.S. Through the student’s stories, the films explore the ripple effects of American Slavery on our nation.
Throughout 400 Years Later…’Free-ish,’ a sweeping narrative of past and present racial tension is highlighted to evoke a greater understanding of the African American experience and current racial issues that still persist today. The HBCU Storytellers sparked engaging conversations with local communities to examine two provocative monuments: “The planned erection of the Emancipation
Proclamation Freedom Monument on Brown’s Island which will recognize ten African American freedom fighters including controversial figure Nat Turner and the planned removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, VA,” (The Nate Parker Foundation).
The documentary series, 400 Years Later… ’Free-ish,’ highly encourages community discussions in the hopes of building stronger relationships. The Nate Parker Foundation believes conversation has the power to change our culture. As a result, screenings and discussions are currently being held and organized across the country. To host a screening and facilitate dialogue in your community, you can contact the Nate Parker Foundation here.
Visit nateparkerfoundation.org for further information on The HBCU Storytellers Project, their impactful documentary series, and more. The Nate Parker Foundation values activism through cinema and believes in grassroots leadership and storytelling as a vehicle for social change.