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Legacy of slavery is the subject of film shoot in Dalton Room

Image of a film shoot in Dalton Reading Room

The Dalton Reading Room served as the location for a documentary film shoot in late January. The film, currently in production, will tell the story of Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and De Kirkpatrick, two men who came to learn at the age of 65 why they shared a name. 

After researching his genealogy, in part with records held in Special Collections, Jimmie Lee told De in 2013: “Your great-great-grandfather owned my great-great-great grandfather.” Many Charlotteans are familiar with their story from articles by reporter Gary Schwab in the Charlotte Observer  in 2014 and because the two men often speak publicly about their relationship and journey together.

The synopsis for the documentary, directed by Minneapolis filmmaker Louise Woehrle, notes: “A story rooted in the South is also America’s story – one of slavery’s legacy, present-day racial divide, and the hope that by learning from each other, we can heal deep wounds that many of us have never faced.” The film is tentatively titled simply Mecklenburg County.

The sequence shot in the Dalton Room featured a conversation with Jimmie Lee and De, along with Adreonna Bennett,  Atkins Library’s Community Engagement Archivist, and Emma Peoples Smith, who donated some of her family’s nineteenth-century papers to Special Collections last year. Her family owned a plantation in Mecklenburg County, and the group’s conversation was driven, in part, by engaging with some of these records associated with enslaved people. 

For more information and to support the film, please visit Film North . Recordings and transcripts of oral history interviews with Jimmie Lee and De are available in Goldmine, Atkins digital repository for Special Collections and University Archives. The Peoples Family Papers are available to use in the Dalton Reading Room.

--Dawn Schmitz