The Descendant Impact Campaign was designed to support the ongoing work of the Africatown community leaders and organizations featured in the Netflix documentary Descendant, which was produced by Participant, Higher Ground, and Two One Five Entertainment.
The campaign aimed to build capacity, provide training, and foster connections for the leaders and organizations of the community of Africatown as they continue their fight for justice. This included working closely with four local non-profit organizations featured in the film: Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation (AHPF), Clean Healthy Educated Safe Sustainable (CHESS), Clotilda Descendants Association (CDS) and Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition (MEJAC); and securing national partnerships with Kinkofa, the Big We, and The Solutions Project.
In addition to Africatown focused work, the campaign prioritized advancing national conversations around history preservation and environmental justice through the #DescendantChallenge, Descendant Cookout short form series, and various screenings across the country.
Support the community
Representatives from Participant, Netflix and Higher Ground spent a weekend in Mobile, Alabama to meet with descendants and community leaders to discuss their most pressing needs within the community and develop plans around issues such as economic development, environmental justice and history preservation.
Participant organized a Mobile, AL hometown premiere event, screening the film for 900 members of the community and fostering connections between community leaders and the national campaign partners from Kinkofa, The Solutions Project and the Big We. The screening was followed by a panel moderated by Stephen Satterfield and included Director Margaret Brown, Executive Producer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Co-Writer and Co-Producer Dr. Kern Jackson, and Clotilda descendants Joycelyn Davis, Emmett Lewis and Veda Tunstall Robbins.
In January of 2023, the film screened at the Oprah Winfrey Theater inside the African American Museum of History and Culture, followed by remarks from EPA Regional Administrator, recommitting his support of the community and committing to advancing requests for funds to support Africatown’s environmental justice efforts. He introduced the panel, which included Mary Elliott (NMAAHC curator), director Margaret Brown, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Dr. Kern Jackson, Veda Tunstall Robbins and Joycelyn Davis.
The filmmakers, a few of the descendants and leaders of the community were invited to meet at White House with senior officials from the Office of the Vice President and Council on Environmental Quality to discuss the current environmental challenges facing the community. Following that meeting, the leaders of MEJAC also met with the Regional Director and Federal EPA team.
Advance national conversations
Participant developed DescendantFilm.com as a supplementary resource, which includes a comprehensive history of Africatown, a curated list of partners and organizations, and ways for the audience to engage with issues after seeing the film.
Working with Whetstone, Participant produced the three part series, "The Descendant Cookout" hosted by High on the Hog's Stephen Satterfield. The series chronicles Satterfield on a visit to Africatown and a community cookout hosted at the home of descendant, Mrs. Vernetta. The cookout served as a roundtable for descendants, activists, and Africatown residents to discuss issues facing the community, environmental justice, and history preservation.
Over the holidays, we launched the #DescendantChallenge on Instagram, which invited viewers to share their family stories via daily prompts highlighting favorite family recipes, community spaces, and influential ancestors as a means of preserving their own history. We identified key influencers to kick off the challenge including Stephen Satterfield, former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and Black with No Chaser. The challenge was later amplified on the Kelly Clarkson Show.
The campaign facilitated screenings and panels focused on the film and importance of history preservation at Yale University, B-Lab Champions Retreat, COP27, Afrotech, University of Virginia, The Apollo, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Robert F Kennedy Center for Human Rights, and When We All Vote.
Support the community
Established new and strengthened existing relationships between community partners and national figures, including the Office of the VP, Council on Environmental Quality, EPA.
Following the Mobile screening, which received coverage in every local broadcast and print outlet and garnered the attendance of nine key local reporters, the Meaher family released their first statement ever on this story, condemning their ancestor Timothy Meaher and promising to do better for the community.
Secured nearly $29,000 from a total of 324 donors for four core impact partners.
Helped grow community size for the four impact organizations and Kinkofa.
AHPF grew 116% across three active profiles
CDA grew 39% across three active profiles
MEJAC grew 5.6% across three active profiles
C.H.E.S.S. grew 9% across two active profiles
Kinkofa grew 45% across three active profiles
Advance national conversations
Supported 16 screenings across the country, 300+ press mentioning key campaign issues including in TIME, HuffPost, and NPR.
Over 6 million video views via influencers and 225K via own social channels, and over 2 million engagements on Descendant content.
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