2023 ReFrame Film Festival

The Art of Listening: Health, Community, Disparity (shorts program)

Expired February 4, 2023 4:45 AM
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The Art of Listening: Health, Community, Disparity is a shorts program; multiple films are part of this screening. The collective film program runs 70 minutes, followed by a special Q&A, and a livestream panel available as of Sunday, January 29th at 2 p.m.

Princeville, NC is the first town incorporated by freed, formerly enslaved Africans in America. This historical significance sits on a precipice: It is gradually being washed away.

Princeville sits atop wet, swampy land along the Tar River in North Carolina. In the 1800s this land was disregarded and deemed uninhabitable by white people. After the Civil War, this indifference left it available for newly freed, formerly-enslaved Africans to settle it. Before its incorporation, residents called it ‘Freedom Hill,’ gradually establishing a self-sufficient, all Black town. Resting along the floodplain of the river, Princeville and its residents are not strangers to adversity. The historical town has been inundated with flooding over the centuries. With each flood, a little more of the small town erodes.

In 1999, two hurricanes hit North Carolina only ten days apart. The first, Hurricane Dennis, brought about 8 inches of rain, but the storm that followed, Hurricane Floyd, kept the town underwater for 11 days. Marquetta Dickens was only 13 years old in 1999, but she still remembers the fear she felt the eve of the flood, particularly because when her family had to evacuate, her grandmother wasn’t able to leave with them. Dickens’ grandmother, Delia Perkins, was the mayor during Hurricane Floyd and had to stay behind to make sure all residents made it to safety. ‘Freedom Hill’ explores the environmental racism that is washing away the town of 2,000, through the lens of Marquetta, who recently moved back to North Carolina after learning more about her family lineage through a DNA testing service. 

She traced her lineage in Princeville back to the late 1800s where her great-great-grandmother, Maggie Perkins, was the only woman listed as a property owner in the 1900 U.S. Census. Shortly after her discovery, Marquetta founded The Freedom Organization in her hometown, where she is working to get Princeville registered as an official historical place–hoping that the national recognition will create outrage for what is happening in the small town. Princeville would flood again, just 17 years after Hurricane Floyd, displacing some folks who were just beginning to recover from Hurricane Floyd. 

The environmental issues that Black and poor communities face are often not by chance but are often man-made and preventable. Most people have yet to connect the dots of climate change, race, and poverty. A film series showcasing who will be impacted by climate change, how and why, will force our country to understand what is at stake. Climate change is a Black issue. Our history is at stake. Our communities are literally being washed away.

This film uncovers the continuing legacy of racism in the U.S. and how the refusal to reckon with its own history still impacts and extends into the lives and lands of Black Americans. The documentary series uses personal narratives to examine what that responsibility, and lack thereof, looks like and challenges viewers to fight against environmental racism, climate change, and history erosion.

Watch this film as part of our shorts program "The Art of Listening: Health, Community, Disparity" in the ReFrame Virtual Theatre.


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A community-based non-profit organization, committed to promoting positive race relations in Peterborough through community based advocacy, collaborations and education.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    29 minutes
  • Language
  • Director
    Resita Cox
  • Producer
    Resita Cox
  • Editor
    Donnie Seals Jr.