Brooklyn to Harlem
Lucille, an African-American woman left Brooklyn, Alabama during a period that has come to be known as the Great Migration. Embarking on her journey as a teenager she traveled to Pensacola, Florida; Detroit, Michigan; finally settling in Harlem, NY. Along the way she became a wife of 60 years, a mother of 12 children, and a founding member of a historic African-American church.
Scholarship has identified the Great Migration (ca. 1915-1970s) as a significant event that shifted the African-American population of the U.S. from predominant residence in Southern states to nearly six million migrating, relocating and settling in Northern urban cities. With this shift came vast changes and the more subtle disconnect of people growing ever more distant over time, space and silence; this was arguably disruptive to the continuity of oral history within African-American families.
In the 1970s the Great Migration came to a close. By that time, the generations of Lucille's children -- including her great-granddaughter, filmmaker Monique Velez -- would lose their connection with their family's legacy left in the South.
This film documents Monique as she walks in Lucille's footsteps, learning about her family's genealogy through historic research, interviews and visits to places many have forgotten. In Brooklyn she learns about Lucille's and other family members lives in the context of earlier significant periods in history -- the civil war, reconstruction and segregation.
In Harlem the story continues through the 1920's Harlem Renaissance, The Depression and the Civil Rights era to present day. Monique revisits the familiar places of her youth during Lucille's elder years in the 1970's and 80's. She talks with Lucille's surviving children including her grandmother and mother about their memories of what Harlem was like for them and their family as a part of that dynamic enclave. A chronicle of a journey, a family and an African-American community unfolds in the story of Brooklyn to Harlem.