by Jackie Wright, Wright Enterprises
Dallas – Two genealogists and a filmmaker have joined forces to bring awareness to the fact that racism can impact beyond life itself. “Reclaiming Sacred Grounds: In Memoriam Black Lives Matter” is a film screening and panel discussion that explores what can be done to reclaim the land where Black people have been laid to rest. Too many ancestral cemeteries have been left in disarray and are in danger of disappearing altogether due to construction, land development and lack of funding.
On Saturday, March 27, 4 p.m. CDT, producer Jackie Wright of San Francisco, also filmmaker and panelist based currently in Dallas, along with producer Johnathan Hill, of The HB Group, LLC, based in Baton Rouge, La., will join forces. Together they bring genealogists Yamona Pierce of Washington, D.C., and Debra Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia of Durham, N.C., into a virtual space to share their journeys and findings in their efforts to bring dignity and honor to our African American ancestors, many of whom were enslaved or their descendants.
“Our work to preserve the historic Pierce Chapel African American cemetery serves to celebrate and highlight the contributions and hardship of our ancestors. The experiences of enslaved Africans and their descendants are part of the fabric of this country and its history,” said Yamona Pierce, genealogist and founder of Hamilton Hood Foundation.
“We want to take every opportunity to educate every American and raise public awareness on the cultural and historic significance of restoring these burial grounds. Our preservation and restoration efforts aim to provide our future generations with an important connection to the past, as our nation becomes more diverse and inclusive.”
“The West African Sankofa symbol’s literal translation is ‘return and get it,’ meaning ‘learn from the past to prepare for the future.’” The symbol reinforces the idea of community and family and using past experiences to help build a better future.
“We Stand On the Shoulders of The Ancestors” is often a phrase spoken across the nation at many ceremonial African American events. The panelists of “Reclaiming Sacred Grounds: In Memoriam Black Lives Matter” are working to ensure that standing on the ancestors’ shoulders will be done respectfully.
Debra Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia has been laboring for more than three years to ensure that the souls laid to rest at Durham, N.C.’s Geer Cemetery are honored. “Preserving Geer Cemetery is about the entire Durham Community. It takes the Durham Community to ensure its legacy and importance is maintained for the future,” said Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia, genealogist and president of Friends of Geer Cemetery.
“The West African Sankofa symbol’s literal translation is ‘return and get it,’ meaning ‘learn from the past to prepare for the future.’” The symbol reinforces the idea of community and family and using past experiences to help build a better future. “Working together, we can reach back to ensure Geer Cemetery lives in the future,” continued Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia.
“Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia and Pierce both have set a positive trajectory for practical steps as they speak about ‘building for the future,’ utilizing the work of reclaiming sacred lands in the South and across the nation,” said Jackie Wright, filmmaker, publicist and founder of San Francisco and Dallas-based Wright Enterprises.
“I envision a workforce development element to the reclamation process as HBCUs and other colleges and universities are engaged as resources are sought. Young people, transitioning adults and even the prison re-entry populations and others can learn American history, promotion, landscaping, architecture and other work skills as the cemeteries are reclaimed and developed into sites for events and museums and/or places of honor,” added Wright.
The free virtual event including a film screening can be accessed by going to www.lovereunited.org and clicking on the events’ page: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gRpcyhOoTlex68289BDTHg. Registration is required.
The program agenda will begin with the screening of “Love Separated in Life … Love Reunited in Honor,” a 15-minute documentary that shows the power of positive racial interaction in its content and its creation. The film was written and directed by Jackie Wright, a descendant of U.S. slaves, and Jack Livolsi, of Italian descent, founder of Jackson Street Productions in San Francisco, with the purpose of sharing the universal story of love, war, family, friendship, racial understanding and social justice.
50 years after his death in Vietnam, the children of fallen U.S. Army Patriot Sp5 Wyley Wright Jr. reburied him with his wife Ouida Fay Wright at Arlington National Cemetery, removing him from a segregated and deteriorating cemetery. The Wright parents died March 9, 1964, and March 9, 1970, respectively.
“Love Separated in Life … Love Reunited in Honor” is a film that demonstrates the power of racial harmony as Black, white and Asian families connect to honor the U.S. Vietnam War Patriot.
Special thanks are extended to genealogist, Henriette Hood-Cain of Columbus, Ga., who provided the impetus for the panel discussion. The panelists can be contacted by email:
- Yamona Pierce, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://hamiltonhood.org/.
- Debra Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia, Friendsofgeercemetery@gmail.com, https://www.facebook.com/groups/FofGC.
- Jackie Wright, LoveReunited2014@gmail.com, https://www.lovereunited.org/.
- Johnathan Hill, producer and stage manager for the event, email@example.com.
Jackie Wright is the president of Wright Enterprises, a full-service public relations firm serving the corporate, non-profit and government sectors. A seasoned media and public relations professional, Wright has over 20 years of media experience, including more than a decade of award-winning journalism experience in radio, television and print communications, and holds degrees in both journalism and drama from the University of Georgia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/wrightenternow.