top of page



The Other Madisons is a highly acclaimed documentary that explores the oral tradition of a family of Black descendants of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. Director Montes-Bradley preserves this vital social record, suppressed or neglected due to exclusion and racism.


The film follows Bettye Kearse, who traces her ancestry to Mandy, the family's first African ancestor enslaved on American soil and owned by President Madison's estate in Virginia, Montpelier. Kearse's genealogical journey is contextualized through her research, encounters with cultural institutions, and travels to Ghana, Portugal, Virginia, and Texas.


The family mantra, "Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president," takes on new meaning through the documentary film experience. The filmmaker heavily relies on Kearse's homonymous book and personal testimony while consulting experts on Montpelier's enslaved community, including archaeologists Matthew Reeves and Kelley Fanto Deetz, historians Lynn Rainville and Cristian Cotz, and Elizabeth Chew, Chief Curator at James Madison's Montpelier.


The film has a runtime of 40 minutes and is available on Kanopy Streaming and Alexander Street Press. Overall, The Other Madisons is a significant contribution to American history, shedding light on the often-neglected contributions of African Americans and the complex legacy of slavery in the United States.

bottom of page