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SPRING 2024:  Private Lives, Public Stories

The Trenton Project is a collaborative documentary exploration of a city. This semester, together with our students, we've studied biography to investigate how stories of individuals can paint a larger narrative about changing cities and societies. 

Now in its eleventh year, The Trenton Project works in collaboration with residents and institutions to document and amplify the lives and talents of Trentonians as they weave and repair the fabric of a city. Over the years, we've conducted research, created films, raised questions, gathered archival evidence, told stories, and hosted conversations in and about the city of Trenton. 

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PREACHING TO THE HEAVENS AND SERVING ON EARTH

Directed by Angela Allen and Mattie Isaac (2024, 11 minutes)

Who was one of Trenton’s great orators, activists, religious leaders, and politicians? Reverend S. Howard Woodson's powerful presence and voice filled up every space he entered: Shiloh Baptist Church where he was pastor for 50 years, the State Legislature where he was the first African American New Jersey assemblyman, and countless city community centers and gatherings. This film traces key points in Rev. Woodson's political career, examines his legacy, and explores the complexities of Black political and spiritual leadership during the turbulent 1960s. 

PERRY STREET: THE BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS

Directed by Jenna Kim and Janelli Morones (2024, 11 min)

When you exit the Route 1 highway, do you know where you are? Perry Street in Trenton, New Jersey is the street often bypassed by individuals or the in-between of a destination. Tales from Perry Street embarks on a biographical journey that tells a narrative of Perry Street by unraveling captivating stories through the recollection of lifetime residents. From forgotten corners to vibrant community establishments, exploring the evolution and soul of a street that beats with the pulse of history.

PEOPLE, NOT PAWNS

Directed by  Tom Billington and Maggie Liebich (2024, 11 min)

After the Freedom Rides of 1961 and James Meredith's admission to the University of Mississippi in 1962, White Citizens Councils in the South sponsored the relocation of black families to northern cities to expose what they saw as Northern Liberal hypocrisy. These events have been called the Reverse Freedom Rides. In February 1963, the Gilmores, a family of ten, reached Trenton in search of US Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, only to realize their trip was an elaborate joke. Despite this, they opted to stay, beginning a new chapter in their lives. This is their story.

GENERACIONES DE NINEZ BORICUA

Directed by  Roxana Martinez & John Venegas Juarez (2024, 11 min)

Community Leader Roberto Hernandez reminisces on the generational advancements of the Trenton Latine community through a series of stories, ranging from his family’s journey to Trenton to those of the people he serves daily.

 El líder comunitario Roberto Hernández recuerda los avances generacionales de la comunidad latina de Trenton a través de una serie de historias, que van desde el viaje de su familia a Trenton hasta las de las personas a las que sirve a diario.

MAKING MILL HILL, BRICK BY BRICK

Directed by Ryan Konarska & Leo Yu  (2024, 11 minutes)

The crown jewel of Trenton was once a neighborhood in decline—until Mayor Holland and his family moved to 138 Mercer Street in 1964. The move caught the attention of the nation and engendered fierce reactions among the area’s white, Black, and Puerto Rican residents. Residents from different points in the community’s history speak of their vision of the neighborhood, rooted in the architecture of its past, building the Mill Hill of the present, and looking to its future.  Mayor Holland’s move fueled a discourse about who truly belongs in Mill Hill—and to whom Mill Hill truly belongs—that continues to this day. 

SHE'S WITH YOU

Directed by N’Dea Piliavin-Godwin, Julia Stern, and Cailyn Tetteh (2024, 11 minutes)

She’s With You tells the story of Judge Anne Thompson and her fifty-five years in the Trenton legal system. At the core of her legacy lies not just her dedication to law and justice, but also the personal connections she built and the many lives she touched. Featuring Judge Thompson herself, the film chronicles the legacy of New Jersey’s first Black female judge. 

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