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A documentary film-project written and directed by Alanna Lockward
Cinematography by Peyi Guzmán
Shot on location in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Germany and Namibia
African Methodist Episcopal Church 16th District
Center for Global Studies and the Humanities, Duke University
Department of English and American Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin
Work-in-progress / Trailer 15 min
Edited by Pedro Branco
Music by Jorge Lockward and the AME Churches on location
Cinematography by Lanchel Brutus, William Córdova, Tatiana Magloire
The purpose of this documentary film project is to retrace the liberation legacy of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in three different locations united by common narratives related to struggles against enslavement and apartheid. The AME Mother Bethel Church was founded by Rev. Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1794, as the first protestant church ministered exclusively by former enslaved people. It became a legally incorporated denomination in 1816. Upon the request of the Haitian government, The AME sent 6,000 individuals to the island of Saint-Domingue between 1824-1826, two decades after this first Black Republic in the world came into being. The Haitian Revolution is an integral part of the history of the AME in the island and it is also crucial to note that Richard Allen was deeply involved in the logistics of this immigration, the most important one of the XIX Century in Dominican history.
In 1946, Marcus Witbooi, a descendant of anti-colonial Namibian national hero, Hendrik Witbooi, deserted the German Rhenish Mission and affiliated his congregation to the AME inspired by the historical liberation narratives and practices of this church. Later, AME members were instrumental in the liberation and independence of Namibia from South Africa.
The role of African Methodism in the Caribbean and the African continent will be approached from perspective of decolonial theory. This ratifies my intention of presenting South-South narratives of liberation in the voices of its own protagonist.
This reflection is extremely valuable since until today neither the AME in Haiti, the Dominican Republic or Namibia has a physical archive where church members and historians could consult their amazing legacies. The archival value of the raw footage of this film will motivate Africana and international experts on Protestant church histories, among others, to join forces with the AME Connectional Church in providing a safe place for these histories to be preserved in a dignified way.
The film starts narrating how the sound of the typewriter of my grandfather, George Augustus Lockward Stamers, impregnated my childhood and teenage years. Little did I know that from his incesant typing the first documented account of African Methodism in the island of Saint-Domingue was being written. The cover of his book, “El Protestantismo en Dominicana“ (1976, Editora Dominicana) is arguably the ugliest version of the legendary portrait of Rev. Richard Allen.
|My aunt, Anilda Lockward de Brito, holds the book of my grandfather, George Augustus Lockward Stamers, “Historia del Protestantismo en Dominicana”.|
However, the beauty of its content surpasses any description. It has been a powerful influence in my work as scholar and arts curator.
After this first sequence, the film will offer an overview of the legal battle that the Rev. Richard Allen and the AME fought in the courts of Philadelphia for
a decade to achieve full independence from the oppression of the established white Methodists.
The definitions and historical entanglements of Black citizenship, a central theme that unites the narratives of the AME in Saint-Domingue and Namibia, will be one of the main foci. Another one will be the role of women in these histories. Equally, the social engagement of the AME in community education and health services will convey how the powerful legacy of Rev. Richard Allen is still alive accross time and space. To further illustrate the historical relevance of the AME, we will include archival images of prominent AME members, Rosa Parks and Fredrick Douglass.