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The Other Madisons, a Cross Country Journey

Back from the first leg of a cross-country journey in search of The Other Madisons. The Other Madisons is the title of the book by Bettye Kearse that inspired the documentary that we are aiming to complete by Christmas, for release in the first quarter of 2021.

In just a few days we covered quite some beautiful territories in just about the right time of the year. On the first stretch we drove from Charlottesville, Virginia to East Bristol, Maine where Christian Cotz was waiting for us to talk about Mandy, Coreen and Jim, the first three generations of enslaved at James Madison’s Montpelier. Mandy had been purchased by the president’s father, at the Slave Market in Fredericksburg. Coreen her daughter, and Jim her grandchild, later sold to a plantation in the South.

On the way back from Maine we stopped at Alice Parker’s refuge in the mountains of western Massachusetts to collect last minute footage before the release of her film by Chorus America which took place

The image depicts the burial of a enslaved person in the woods. In The Other Madisons’s we use this image to capture the essence of Mandy’s burial.
Mandy’s Burial

online on October 8thwith fabulous reception everywhere. That was a day to remember. Following the road back to Virginia we took some time to visit Pablo Tabernero, Jr. and Georganne Chapin in Woodstock. Over breakfast the following morning,Georganne show us a fabulous album with photos of Afro-Bolivians descendants she worked close with almost fifty years ago. A final stop at Eugenio Cuttics’ art studio near Montauk put an end to the first leg of the ambitious roadmap.

The second leg in this cross-country journey starts on Friday with a visit to Kelley Fanto Deetz at Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee, fabulous location for our film. At dawn on Sunday we’ll be heading west to Saint Louis and ultimately New Mexico. If all goes well, we should be driving in Santa Fe by Wednesday October 21st where author Bettye Kearse, a true griotte and direct descendant from African slaves and an American President (James Madison) will be waiting to tell her story.

I hope to be back home, in Virginia by the end of the month, on time for Halloween and my son’s birthday.


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