Rosa Parks Movie Focused On Her Early Activism In Works From Director Julie Dash & Invisible Pictures

'Queen Sugar' screening, Urban World Film Festival, New York, USA - 23 Sep 2017EXCLUSIVE: Helmer Julie Dash has signed on to direct an upcoming biopic on Rosa Parks, which will center on the decade before her seminal moment on a Montgomery bus, when Parks, already an activist of her time, sought justice for 24-year-old wife and mother Recy Taylor, who was brutally gang-raped by six white men in Alabama in 1944.

The project hails from Invisible Pictures with Audrey Rosenberg (I Am Not Your Negro) and Jess Jacobs producing for the company along with Gary Riotto and Rachel Watanabe-Batton. The film is based on the book At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire, which Lisa Jones (HBO’sDisappearing Acts) adapted as a screenplay.

Said Rosenberg, “[The producers] were inspired by the book and how Danielle framed black women’s collective actions, reactions, resistance to sexual violence and oppression, but more importantly their agency and how they sparked that civil rights movement.”

Dash was brought on to direct having had experience with telling the story of the civil rights activist. She directed the 2002 CBS TV movie The Rosa Parks Story, which starred Angela Bassett.

“I jumped at the opportunity to dive head first back into the Rosa Parks story,” Dash told Deadline. “Doing the CBS movie, I realized that there was so much more to her life, legacy, and her activism that we didn’t have time in one [movie]. It was fascinating and just as dramatic as the Montgomery bus boycott, which is what she’s known for, but there is so much more.” History

Per Dash, the film will not only center on Park’s efforts, but also the many other female activists who banded together to defend Taylor and demand justice for the crime (the perpetrators were never arrested, and Taylor’s case was dismissed).

“This is a great opportunity to revisit Jo Anne Robinson, Recy Taylor, all the people who never really make it intoThe Rosa Parks Story,” Dash said. “It’s an ensemble cast of feisty activists who changed the course of history” and laid the foundation for future civil rights demonstrations.

Dash underscored the significance of telling authentic stories through an authentic perspective. “It’s important that black women, who know these stories and have intimate knowledge, that we tell these stories in the manner that they were meant to be told… It’s time to see theses stories in a new light and through a female lens.”

Beyond that, said Rosenberg, it’s essential “to understand the importance of people to have this platform and this space to create and tell their stories” to start a conversation. “Out of that incredible and potential collaboration is harmony,” she said.

VARIOUSOne why this story, and others like it, can still be relevant in the current societal climate, Dash offered, “One of the reasons this story is being told is so that people can connect the dots and see that there’s a continuum.” She continued: “Maybe it’s not the back of the bus, but the hypocrisy is the same, the racism is the same, the systemic oppression is the same, and the rape cases are absolutely the same.” Dash said she hope those who see the film will be inspired “with what has been accomplished in the past” and motivated to “understand the bigger picture.”

“There so many things that are happening today that run parallel,” she said.

The film is in its early stages, with a production start date eyed for 2018,  but the filmmakers are optimistic about the project’s reception. “I think it’ll be a wonderful festival movie and we have high hopes for what it can do globally,” said Rosenberg. “We feel that the story is not just a domestic story… we feel encouraged by what we think is going to be the response.”

Dash has left indelible marks of her own in history. With her 1991 film Daughters Of The Dust, she become the first African American woman to have her feature released in theaters in the U.S.; the film is being preserved by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress and inducted into the Sundance Collection. More recently, she has directed multiple episodes of the OWN/Ava DuVernay series Queen Sugar,which returns with the second half of Season 2 next month.


25th Anniversary Release: Daughters of the Dust

Opening tomorrow in San Francisco, the 25th Anniversary edition of Daughters of the Dust! We are honored to be assisting in the promotion of the re-release of this masterpiece by Julie Dash.


Alva Rogers as “Eula Peazant” (right), Trula Hoosier as “Trula” (center), and Barbara-O as “Yellow Mary Peazant” in Daughters of the Dust Directed by Julie Dash. Photo courtesy of Cohen Film Collection

Daughters of the Dust is the story of conflict and struggle between changing values in the
early 1900’s as a Lowcountry family, living on one of the sea islands, prepares to migrate,
leaving their land and legacy for the promise of the North.

The film focuses on the women of the Peazant Family; the carriers of traditions and beliefs
firmly linked to their African heritage. The story unfolds over the course of a family picnic, the last supper. Along the way, the film saturates us with impressionistic colors, African symbolism, Geechee‐Gullah rituals, cooking, dialect, and the sound of field cries, all expressing the complex resonances of the Lowcountry lifestyle.


Kaycee Moore as “Haagar Peazant” (far left), Alva Rogers as “Eula Peazant” (second from left), Cora Lee Day as “Nana Peazant” (second from right), and Cheryl Lynn Bruce as “Viola Peazant” (right) in Daughters of the Dust Directed by Julie Dash. Photo courtesy of Cohen Film Collection

Daughters of the Dust is set on Dawtuh, (Daughter) a small barrier island among the
hundreds of Sea Islands along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Fearing the extreme conditions on the island: heat, insects, and the threat of yellow fever, landowners live across the river on the mainland. The inhabitants of Dawtuh, mainly African American, have remained isolated and insulated from the mainland since the very first African Captive was brought ashore.

At the heart of the film, Daughters of the Dust is a story about a family coming to grips with both the past and the precarious present. The film opens with the Peazant family
contemplating and celebrating their decision to leave Ibo Landing, to embark upon a new
life on the mainland. Nana Peazant the family matriarch refuses to leave because of her
deep reverence for the island, the ancestors buried there, and a sense that the North will
not be “the land of milk and honey” her progeny believe it will be.


Cora Lee Day as “Nana Peazant” in Daughters of the Dust Directed by Julie Dash. Photo courtesy of Cohen Film Collection

The structure of the film follows the pattern of the West African Griot, a commissioned
artist who recalls and recounts a family’s history for formal occasions. The story of the
Peazant family is recalled, remembered, and recollected as a circular, non‐linear, dramatic
narrative that evokes the oral tradition of ancient African storytellers.

The Peazants are the descendants of African captives who worked the indigo, rice, and cotton plantations during the period of slavery. These unique African Americans speak a distinct language called Gullah or Geechee. The women in the Peazant family carry inside their heads and pockets, scraps of memories, bits and pieces of family memorabilia left by their earliest remembered ancestors. Among those memories are recollections of a group of Ibo captives, who refusing to live enslaved, walked on top of ocean water to get back to Africa.


Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl: The Life of Vertamae Smart

Photo credit via

Photo credit via

Julie Dash, the amazing director behind Daughters of the Dust, Illusions and The Rosa Parks Story has created a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to support her latest film, Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl.  To continue production, the team needs to raise $55,000, which is no small feat with only three days left.  This documentary tells the overlooked and often forgotten life story of culinary anthropologist, actress, writer and poet Vertamae Smart Grosvenor.

We had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Dash in 2007 at a film festival in Columbus, Ohio, and to say we’re excited she is releasing another film would be an understatement.  As we so often mention here at Black Chick Media, the lives of African-American women are hardly ever told…And don’t even get us started on the lack of recognition and support for women filmmakers (African-American or otherwise).

Please join us in supporting this fabulous project and legendary director.  Follow the film on Twitter at @SocialGeechee and Facebook:

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The 13th Annual Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival