Meredith College hosted a screening of the documentary Freedom Hill on September 19, 2023, at 7 p.m. in Jones Auditorium.
The film tells the story of Princeville, N.C., the first town in the United States incorporated by freed African-Americans. As stated in the film’s synopsis, “Resting along the floodplain of the river, Princeville residents are no strangers to adversity. The historical town has been inundated with flooding over the centuries. Freedom Hill is a documentary that explores the environmental racism that is washing away the town of 2,000.”
After the screening, filmmaker Resita Cox participated in a panel discussion with Meredith faculty members Professor of History Dan Fountain, Associate Professor of English Alisa Johnson, Assistant Professor of Social Work Anthony Reid, and Associate Professor of Geoscience Matthew Stutz. The panel was moderated by Assistant Professor of Biology Megan Serr.
As his main takeaway, Stutz noted that the film was a reminder that “scientists don’t always understand individual communities and are sometimes missing their perspective” when dealing with the environmental impacts of climate change.
Cox talked about the filmmaking process as well as the impact of Freedom Hill. Cox is from Kinston, and said that the people of Princeville who were in the documentary “were excited that someone from Eastern North Carolina was telling their story.”
Having trained as a journalist, she shifted her focus to documentary filmmaking in order to tell more in-depth stories and to be able to become involved in the places she worked.
Cox advised college students to find ways to support their communities.
“Get out of your college bubble and get involved in the community you have landed in,” she said. “Get involved beyond your school.”
The screening event was sponsored by the Environmental Sustainability Program, the School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and alumna Carla Ashley, ’78.
Ashley, who attended the screening, said her interest in sustainability has grown as she has learned more about environmental issues.“When I left the employment of the corporate world behind in search of more personal satisfaction, I completed North Carolina’s Environmental Education Certification Program. Working with organizations like the Piedmont Land Conservancy, Greensboro Science Center, schools, libraries, and educational groups, I became aware of the critical role we all have in making ‘sustainability’ the fulcrum between our planet and its inhabitants,” said Ashley. “I am thrilled to be in a position to support Meredith’s environmental sustainability major and to continue learning along with our students.”