After about a month of interviews, scripting and editing, my group has completed our project on The Great Migration.
First up: the short documentary. Mrs. Inel Jefferson provided us with her memories and Kyla, Vinny, and myself have captured them on film. Below is the end result.
As an active member of Germantown’s community, Mrs. Jefferson drives to where she needs to go. Below is a slide show with narration, which details this aspect of Mrs. Jefferson’s life.
If video-watching isn’t your style, I’ve written a blog post about Mrs. Jefferson’s life:
Mrs. James Inel Jefferson, a petite woman in a polka dotted shirt and a pair of flashy pearl earrings, wrung her aged hands as her mind revisited memories from over 90 years ago. It didn’t take long for Mrs. Jefferson to conjure up images of her father’s tobacco and peanut farms where many of her childhood memories take place.
Those farms in Mrs. Jefferson’s memory are in Ahoski, N.C., where she lived with her family until she was five years old. In 1920, Mrs. Jefferson’s father grew tired of farming and relocated the family to Philadelphia, Pa.
The move the Jefferson family made from the South to the North occurred at the beginnings of The Great Migration when a surge of Southern Blacks moved to escape racism and seek employment in the industrious cities of the North.
Mrs. Jefferson’s family is of French and Cherokee heritage, and though Mrs. Jefferson does not consider herself a part of The Great Migration, her life’s story contains elements that parallel what the African American community experienced during this crucial time in America’s history.
After moving to Philadelphia, Mrs. Jefferson was enrolled in public school. She lived in a diverse section of West Philadelphia, and rarely was a victim of the racial divide because her family had white or very light brown skin.
Young Mrs. Jefferson was happy to be living in a city buzzing with life, and soon after graduating high school, Mrs. Jefferson married her first husband and had her son.
The couple was married for ten years before their divorce. Later, Mrs. Jefferson married her second husband, and they remained married for 50 years until his passing.
Though Mrs. Jefferson was not black, her tan skin tone may have inspired an act of racism against her and her second husband while on vacation.
While on a bus, four white military men told Mrs. Jefferson and her Black husband to sit in the seats in the back. Mrs. Jefferson responded that if there were seats in the back that the military men should sit there instead.
The military men remained standing next to the Jeffersons, but Mrs. Jefferson refused to change her seat. The men eventually grew tired and left the Jeffersons alone.
This anecdote is an example of the segregation that minorities faced during the middle of the twentieth century. Social segregation remained despite the abolition of legal segregation, as explained in The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.
Mrs. Jefferson was an avid bowler in her adult years. She participated bowling leagues and earned many trophies for her talents.
Mrs. Jefferson grew old with her second husband in Philadelphia. The couple owned and oversaw various properties around the city.
Mrs. Jefferson currently lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. She volunteers at Center in the Park almost everyday; its her way of giving back to the city she’s called home for so long.