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Documentary to be screened at Jewell for Black History Month
Contact: Rob Eisele816-415-7574
January 20, 2010

“Negroes to Hire,” a documentary on slavery in Missouri by Kansas City filmmaker Gary Jenkins, will be shown at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 7, in Peters Theater on the William Jewell College campus in Liberty, Mo. The College will host the free film screening and panel discussion that is co-sponsored as a part of Black History Month by the Friends of the James Farm, the Clay County Historical Society and the Clay County African-American Legacy Group. Peters Theater is located in Brown Hall on the college campus; tickets or reservations are not required.

The title of the film is taken from a 19th-century advertisement in the Liberty Tribune. “I based the film on the ‘American Slave Narratives’ that were gathered by writers and journalists from across Missouri during the period from 1936 to 1938,” Jenkins said. He noted that the film also features commentaries by several educators who have been published extensively on the topic of slavery, including Dr. Jimmy Johnson (retired from Kansas University); Dr. Diane Mutti Burke, University of Missouri-Kansas City; Dr. Antonio Holland, Lincoln University; and Dr. Harriet Frazier (retired, University of Central Missouri).

Jenkins grew up on a large farm in Clinton County, Mo. “I realized that I had all these myths about what that life was like,” he said. “I wanted to know more about slavery as it was practiced in Missouri. Our family had farmhands who always lived in houses on the land and worked for us. I realized it must have been somewhat similar to how slaves worked closely with the owners during the nineteenth century on small Missouri farms.”

Following the screening, a panel will address the film’s contents and take questions. Serving on the panel along with filmmaker Gary Jenkins will be Dr. Jimmy Johnson, a retired Kansas University professor whose great grandfather was a slave in Platte County; Dr. Cecelia Robinson, professor of English at William Jewell and a member of the Clay County African-American Legacy Group; and Dr. Diane Mutti Burke, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

For more information on the documentary, go to www.lifedocumentaries.com

Additional sponsors for the event are the Watkins Foundation in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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