Students enrolled in “Introduction to the Social Documentary” created a 30-minute film titled “North of the Law” in the fall. The film will premiere at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27 in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.
The documentary depicts the historical events of Oct. 1, 1851, now known as the Jerry Rescue when abolitionists in Syracuse, N.Y., worked to keep Jerry Henry, a self-emancipated slave, from being forced back to his master. Federal Marshalls detained Henry under the Federal Fugitive Slave Law, but a large crowd of about 2,000 abolitionists protested his arrest, and devised a plan to smuggle him to Canada.
The documentary aims to celebrate the successful rescue and the brave abolitionists who risked charges of treason in order to preserve the freedom of one man. The making of the film was made possible by a grant from the HWS Center for Teaching and Learning, which allowed for the use of voice actors, expert interviews, costumed re-enactments, and archival material.
Students traveled to several locations to film, including the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro, N.Y., the Seward House Historic Museum in Auburn, N.Y., and the Jerry Rescue Monument in Syracuse, which serves as a memorial for the unforgettable events of that day.
The cast of the documentary includes: Trevor Bailey ’13, Stephen Bruening ’13, Patrice Thomas ’13, Kingsley Adarkwah ’13, Alexander Amoateng ’14, and Professor of French and Francophone Studies George Joseph, Scholar in Residence Thelma Pinto, Associate Professor of English Nicola Minott-Ahl, Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures James-Henry Holland, Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas and Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey Anderson.
The students working behind the scenes on research, filming, editing and writing the script include: Trevor Bailey ’13, Jiangtao “Harry” Gu ’13, Kelly Halkyard ’13, Amber Jackson ’13, Hannah Sarokin’13, Allison Smith’13, Ariana Vasquez ’13 and Amanda Woods ’13. Archival research was conducted at the Onondaga Historical Society.
Students also interviewed Robert Djed Snead, a voice actor and well-known local re-enactor of the abolitionist Jermain Loguen, who was present at the time of the Jerry Rescue. Also interviewed was Dennis Connors, a historical curator of the Onondaga Historical Society, as well as Norman Dann, a biographer of Gerrit Smith, an abolitionist who helped commemorate the Jerry Rescue in the years following the event.
The photo above features Professor of Media and Society Linda Roberton and her students making the film outside of St. John’s Chapel in the fall.