FALL 2022: What's In a Name and other Encounters with the Archives
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Safa Daftani, La-Tina Graham, Jodie de Jesus, Azariah Jones, Adam Sanders, Theo Wells-Spackman
(2022, 33 min.)
In the summer of 2022, six student filmmakers produced a film about Janet Wide Awake, a play produced by Passage Theatre at Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School. The play looks at the desegregation of the Trenton junior high schools in the 1940s and was co-written and performed by students at the school. The documentary goes behind the scenes to shows how students, historians, teachers, playwrights and performers came together to think about this moment in the history of the Trenton schools and, more broadly, about equal access to educational opportunity today.
Over a year of collaboration, a class of students and local artists recount the history of the Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School by weaving elements of the past, present, and future. But “Janet Wide Awake” is more than just a historical narrative; it becomes a "dream" of students' experience in which theater allows them to embody stories distant yet parallel to their own. Opening night presents a polished product, but this film demonstrates that teamwork and an inventive spirit are needed to make any dream a reality.
This screening also included micro-documentaries created by students in the Spring’s history seminar, “Documentary, Youth and the City”, taught by Purcell Carson and Alison Isenberg. These stories reflect collective research into young Trentonians in the 1960s—through documents and the memories of community elders today—and their responses to a tumultuous era.
BLACK SIGHT: REPRESENTATION OF AND BY BLACK TRENTONIANS 1960-1975
Natalie Barnes (2022, 5 min.)
Through the lives and work of photographers Richard Andrews and Shotski Jones, we glimpse the triumphs of Black representation in Trenton in the 1960s and 70s. Their preserved work along with archival Black-run papers help us see Trenton through a different lens.
LYNCHING NORTHERN STYLE: THE TRENTON 6
Jasmine Berger (2022, 7 min.)
6 Black men accused of a murder, tried by an all-white jury, and sentenced to the death penalty. A story detailing the life and memory of the Trenton Six trials, uncovering a historical civil rights case often forgotten.
BEHIND THE HEADLINES: BLACK YOUTH ACTIVISM AT TRENTON CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Julia Chaffers (2022, 7 min.)
Looking beyond biased newspaper headlines reveals the active world of Black youth in Trenton leading up to the 1968 uprisings. Stories of exclusion, adversity, and increasing political consciousness from students at Trenton Central High School reveal the depth of community in 1968 Trenton and the factors that led youth to take to the streets.
413 FAMILIES: A COMMUNITY'S FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL IN COALPORT
Shannon Chaffers (2022, 7 min.)
This film explores the impact of Trenton’s urban renewal program in Coalport. It tells the story of residents who were forced to relocate to make way for development projects in the area despite resistance from local activists, and illuminates what was lost through this process.
Isadora Alsadir Knutsen (2022, 14 min.)
This film explores Trenton not only as a material landscape, but as a place that lives in people's minds. How do memories refract through lives and across generations?
Austin Davis (2022, 5 min.)
RITES OF PASSAGE
Azariah Jones (2022, 7 min.)
Through an unpacking of lived experience and archival documents, this film explores how absence, and conversely, presence, can decide the version of a history we remember and call our own. Focusing on the Mercer Street Friends Center (MSFC), two points of view narrate this unveiling: that of Emerson Simmons, community organizer and former high school counselor, and Lloyd Johnson, an early organizer at the MSFC.
ONE CITY, TWO YOUNG ATHLETES IN RED, BLACK AND WHITE
James Kontulis (2022, 7 min.)
How did sports, both as an ideal and a reality, impact Trenton’s youth in the 1960s? A documentary that explores this ideal of sports and how being a part of integrated teams at Trenton High helped broaden the views of two young athletes.
BROADENING THE SCOPE: BLACK HISTORY MATTERS BEYOND THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY
Ndeye Thioubou (2022, 5 min.)
Even today, school districts in Trenton and across the nation are grappling with the issue of adequate representation and inclusion within their curriculums, especially in history classes. Juanita Williams Faulkner, a former educator in Trenton, emphasizes Black history’s significance as well as shining a spotlight on the city’s great African-American educators during the 1960s.
How did one woman give a voice to her peers at Trenton High? A documentary that explores the administration of Linda Walker, the 1968 senior class president who spoke up in favor of her fellow students.