Dr. Marshall Shares Her Appreciation For DDFR

Thomas Allen Harris presenting at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Dear Thomas,

Congratulations to you and the team on the Through A Lens Darkly (TALD) Special Screening Event at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on August 7th. I believe I can speak for all when I say, “We are so grateful that you took up the mantle of your step-father and grandfather’s mission not only to record family history but to also record and share the history of the African Diaspora.” Thank you!

The event was AWESOME and AMAZING! From the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion (DDFR) Roadshow events that screened as people came in, to your family history, to the wonderfully exciting excerpts from “Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela” and “E Minha Cara/That’s My Face”, to excerpts from the work of other photographers who have and continue to document OUR HISTORY. All of it was GREAT. The ancestors were and are truly with all of you.

Dr. Mary M. Marshall participates in Chimpanzee Productions community event at the Schomburg Center

I have been an ardent fan and follower of Chimpanzee Productions, Inc. and DDFR since I participated in the Harlem Roadshow held at the Harlem Stage in 2011. Seeing the final product, “Dr. Marshall’s Photo Mission”, on the DDRFtv website left me speechless. The very day I came, 7:30pm, February 24, 2011, had and has special meaning for me. At that hour and day, 16 years earlier, I was in a horrific accident but was given another chance at life. Ironically, I was on my way to give a speech on Paul Robeson’s life and share some of my family’s photos and letters. Bringing my photos to the Harlem DDFR Roadshow was much needed food for my spirit. It motivated me to continue my journey of documenting and researching my family history. I connected more deeply with a part of my life that I thought was slipping away from me. My experience at the screening event was not only awesome and amazing, but it was motivational and spiritual. As I watched your step-father’s funeral and burial, I felt as though I were actually present, not sitting in the Schomburg Center viewing it on a screen.

Dr. Mary M. Marshall shares her family Photo Collection with filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris at the DDFR Roadshow held at the Harlem Stage in 2011

It seemed as though I was standing at the edge of the grave as the first hand of dirt was thrown into the grave. Memories from my childhood flashed in front of me as I both watched the film and had a sense of “spirit/ancestor” presence. It happened again as I watched and listened to Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe describe the photo of her mother’s casket going into the hearse. Again, I felt transported to another place—a spiritual place.

Audience members pay close attention during the Chimpanzee Productions community event at the Schomburg Center

Yes, the experience was AWESOME, AMAZING, MOTIVATIONAL and SPIRITUAL. It reaffirmed for me that my mission to restore, preserve, pass on and share my family’s history is a must. For, as I have said to any and all who would listen, “This is my family’s history, but it is also all of our history: African, African-American, the African Diaspora and America.”

Thank you, Thomas and “TALD/DDFR Family” for bringing us together. We are family!

All the best,

Mary M. Marshall, Ph.D.

Historian, Genealogist

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