Freedom Hill – Director Resita Cox

After the Civil War, freed African Americans settled in the floodplains along North Carolina’s Tar River. This land becomes Princeville, the first town   chartered by Blacks in America. FREEDOM HILL is an immersive tour of this historic site that chronicles the ongoing legacy of this community. Guided by Princeville native Marquetta Dickens, the camera captures what makes the town so special: a car caravan to celebrate the106th birthday of a beloved resident, aunties who love to tell stories, and a classic North Carolina barbecue.The town of Princeville sits atop wet, swampy land along the Tar River in North Carolina. In the 1800s this land was disregarded and deemed uninhabitable by white people. After the Civil War, this indifference left it available for newly freed enslaved Africans to settle. Before its incorporation, residents called it ‘Freedom Hill,’ gradually establishing a self-sufficient, all Black town. Resting along the floodplain of the river, Princeville and its residents are not strangers to adversity. The historical town has been inundated with flooding over the centuries. With each flood, a little more of the small town erodes. Yet these moments in Princeville are haunted by the specter of the floods that regularly brutalize the town, forcing people to rebuild their homes time and time again. Filmmaker Resita Cox exposes a history of environmental racism and why ultimately, “Black towns always exist within this larger white governance regime.” By sharing the spiritual, ancestral, and political landscapes of Princeville, Freedom Hill pushes against America’s historical and present legacy of racist displacement.


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About the filmmaker – Resita Cox is an Emmy Award winning documentary film director and producer. Born and raised in the South, her films center Southern, Black communities and use them as a lens to examine topics ranging from environmental justice to racial justice. With a degree in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Resita started her career as a storyteller in TV news as a reporter in North Carolina and later in Chicago. Resita was awarded a 2023 Regional Emmy for her work as director on WTTW’s series Firsthand: Life After Prison. She is the director/producer of Freedom Hill, an award-winning documentary about the environmental racism that is washing away the first town chartered by Black people in the nation, with which she was named a 2021 Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator Fellow. She holds an MFA from Northwestern University in Documentary Film and was named a 2022 Esteemed Artist by the City of Chicago. She is one of Elevate’s 2022 Climate Changemakers and is the producer of Bike Vessel, which premiered at the 2023 59th Chicago International Film Festival. Her films have screened across North America at esteemed festivals such as Full Frame, New Orleans, Black Star, Slamdance, Pan African and DC Environmental Film Festivals. Resita is developing her debut feature, Basketball Heaven, a love letter to her hometown: Kinston, NC, with which she won the 2023 South Pitch Documentary with New Orleans Film Society. Her films and impact work have been supported by Chicken and Egg Pictures, Perspective Fund, PBS, Cucalorus, South Arts, Points North Institute, Chicago Filmmakers and other prestigious film organizations. She organizes an annual youth media camp in her home community, eastern North Carolina.