2022 Annual Meeting Highlight: Descendants: Boundaries of Beginnings (Film Screening and Q&A) with Kern Jackson

Annual Meeting News, Events
headshot of kern jackson, who has short cropped hair and is wearing glasses

Join Dr. Kern Jackson, Co-Producer and Co-Writer of Descendant, for a discussion about the recently-released film about the search for and historic discovery of The Clotilda, the last known ship to arrive in the United States, illegally carrying enslaved Africans. After a century of secrecy and speculation, the 2019 discovery of the ship turns attention toward the descendant community of Africatown and presents a moving portrait of a community actively grappling with and fighting to preserve their heritage while examining what justice looks like today.

The feature documentary “Descendant” won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film screening of Descendant and Q&A with Kern Jackson will take place Thursday, October 13, 8:00 pm–10:00 pm.

Emmett Lewis standing at a dock overlooking a body of water and horizon. Lighting is blue and green, and Lewis is wearing a red shirt and black shorts with a white hem.
Emmett Lewis

The residents of Africatown, U.S.A. in Mobile, Alabama, have re-Centered the Periphery of their space and place through shared stories and cultural preservation for generations. Following Zora Neale Hurston’s footsteps, the film Descendant (109 minutes) explores the interplay between memory, evidence, and how descendants bend their narrative to demonstrate the complexity of tradition bearing and heritage preservation. Descendant also reveals the enduring power imbalance that persists between the descendants of the family who chartered the last illegal expedition and the descendants of those who were enslaved aboard it. The ongoing process of “resistance, resilience, and survival” continues to be documented by folklorists as those in Africatown extend their legacy “forming and re-forming” their history.

Kern Michael Jackson, Ph.D., is a folklorist with an extensive academic career in ethnography, oral history, material culture and literary folkloristics. He is currently the director of the African American Studies program at the University of South Alabama. Previously, he was curator of minority history for The Museum of Mobile, AL, and the project coordinator for the City of Mobile’s Tri-centennial Celebration Video Oral History Project. He taught for twoyears in the District of Columbia Public School System. Dr. Jackson served as a historian on the documentary The Order of Myths, directed by Margaret Brown. He has appeared in multiple episodes of an Alabama Public Television Series, Alabama Journey Proud. In 2020, he was part of Alabama Black Belt Blues, a documentary about Alabama’s blues music tradition, centered in its fertile Black Belt region. Dr. Jackson is a graduate of the University of Virginia, with a degree in English Literature and African-American Studies. He has master’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison in African-American Studies. He holds a doctorate in Folklore from Indiana University Bloomington.

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