The Other Madisons is a multiple award winning documentary film, and a remarkable contribution to American history. By documenting the oral tradition in a single family of Black descendants from James Madison, director Montes-Bradley preserves, with exquisite fidelity, an important social record, despite or perhaps in response to, suppression or neglect by exclusion, and racism.
In The Other Madisons, Bettye Kearse traces her ancestry to Mandy, her family’s first African ancestor enslaved on American soil and who became the property of President James Madison's estate in Virginia, Montpelier. Kearse's research, her encounters with cultural institutions, and her travels to Ghana, Portugal, Virginia, and Texas provide the contextual background of this genealogical journey. The family mantra: "Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president" has now achieved a new level, that of the documentary film experience.
During the process of making The Other Madisons, the filmmaker relied heavily on Kearse’s homonymous book and her own testimony at length, while also reaching out to experts on Montpelier’s enslaved community: Matthew Reeves, archaeologist; Lynn Rainville, historian; Cristian Cotz, historian, Kelley Fanto Deetz, archaeologist, and Elizabeth Chew, Chief Curator at James Madison's Montpelier. HD|40 minutes.