In Alabama there is a small rural town named Brooklyn. During the first wave of the Great Migration, an African- American woman named Lucille decided to leave her hometown of Brooklyn, then the south, and travel with her husband eventually arriving up north in Harlem, New York. This woman was the filmmaker’s great-grandmother.
The Great Migration would come to a close 60 years later when Monique Velez, the filmmaker, was born during the 1970’s in New York. By that time the generations of Lucille’s children would lose their connection with their heritage, and legacy left in the south. Monique, travels back to Brooklyn, Alabama, and retraces Lucille’s journey and her family history.
Scholarship has identified the Great Migration (ca. 1915-1970s) as a significant event, arguably disruptive to the continuity of the history within African-American families. The Great Migration shifted the African-American population of the U.S. from predominant residence in southern states to near 6 million migrating, relocating and settling in northern urban cities. With this shift in demographics came a myriad of social, economic, and political changes, and the more subtle disconnect of families growing ever more distant over time, space, and silence.
Goals of the Documentary
One of the goals of the documentary, Brooklyn to Harlem is to bring awareness to the need for greater education, resource, and public information on how to conduct genealogy research. Archives and public offices throughout the country house these records and they are public domain. Genealogy study can help individuals and families gather a better understanding of their place in history. Also, these stories can lead to identification of places of significance.
A storm torn and overrun 200-year-old church and cemetery where many of Monique’s relatives are buried dating back to the 19th century was captured on film. Identification of the cemetery and church by the filmmaker has led to seeking nomination on the State and National Register of Historic Places as they do merit.
How to Support Filming in Harlem
Brooklyn to Harlem is gearing up for filming in New York City by fundraising on Indiegogo and through the main website. Visits in New York will include the Historic Antioch Baptist Church were the filmmaker’s great-grandparents were founding members. Jackie Robinson, first African American Major League Baseball player, was also a member. Harlem will be the center for production in New York City. Many of the films locations are historically significance and recorded on the local and national register, and the filmmaker’s research can inform many more.
The Brooklyn to Harlem Trailer
Monique Velez completed her Masters of Art in Historic Preservation in 2010, and is also a graduate of the State University of New York with a Bachelors of Art degree in History. Monique is a native New Yorker, and her early life centered in the Bronx and Harlem. Currently, she lives in Charlotte, NC with her two children. She is a writer for Charlotte Viewpoint, an online publication, a docent at McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, and a community fellow and researcher at the Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University.
More News about Brooklyn to Harlem
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