Distinguished and Emmy-Award winning actress, Cicely Tyson, narrates a new West Michigan produced documentary which tells of the history of African American families who moved from the deep South to West Michigan. From the Herald Palladium:
Brothers Jim and Rod Schaub grew up in Muskegon with no knowledge of the role African Americans played in the growth of the industrial Michigan town.
"We grew up here, went to school here, but I never heard about our own rich history," Rod Schaub says by telephone from his home in Muskegon, "particularly when it came to the African American community."
After learning that a local physician, Dr. James Jackson, who is also the board chairman at the Muskegon County Museum of African American History, had been tape recording the stories of his elderly black patients, the Schaubs began to do some research of their own.
What they discovered is documented in their film, "Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream," which will be shown Friday at the Box Factory for the Arts (1101 Broad Street in St. Joseph, Friday night at 7:30 p.m.)
The 58-minute documentary centers on Muskegon's role in the massive migration of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North as farming jobs in cotton and other crops began to disappear. When they journeyed north to find work in the booming manufacturing industry, their lives changed - and so did the communities to which they migrated.
Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, "Up From the Bottoms" uses interviews from 15 Muskegon residents, old photographs and reenactments to explore the differences in culture between North and South, the racial tensions in Muskegon at the time and the individual stories of those who helped shape the community.
"When you're making a documentary you just shoot and shoot and shoot and try to make a story out of it," says Jim Schaub, who directed the film. "Our goal was to let people tell their story. So we asked a lot of open-ended questions and let them be open and honest. By letting people say what they wanted, we got a lot more emotional stories and some of the tiny details that I think make this film."