Award: Incubation / $15,000
Purpose: To support production of a new installment of “The Price of Silence,” a popular documentary TV series on NJ PBS exploring the history of Black New Jerseyans.
The first two installments of The Price of Silence have reached thousands of viewers through airings on NJ PBS as well as numerous screenings in schools, community centers, theaters, and performing arts centers throughout the state.
For many of those viewers, the experience has been one of learning their own history, for the first time.
The acclaimed documentary series focuses on telling the history of Black New Jerseyans, much of which has previously been under-told. The first installment shares the little-known legacy of slavery across New Jersey. The second continued the exploration of slavery in New Jersey with moving stories about events that took place during the 19th century, followed by the lasting impact that slavery still has on the African American community today.
Now Truehart Productions aims to tell another chapter in New Jersey history in a new installment of the series exploring the Great Migration in New Jersey.
“In this next phase of our project, we will continue our mission to help the general public and the educational profession better understand the plight of the African American community after the abolition of slavery,” said Ridgeley Hutchinson, president of Truehart Productions. “By illustrating their story through a documentary film that will be aired on NJ’s Public Television stations and then distributed to educational institutions throughout New Jersey, we hope to inspire a discussion across the state that will help humanity begin to understand the African American experience and explain why there are still vast social and economic disparities between the Black and White community.”
According to Hutchinson, after screenings of the first installments, numerous schools have expressed a desire to integrate the series into their local history curricula. The series is resonating with New Jerseyans, many of whom are surprised to learn about the under-told history of their state.
“I never learned about this in school,” says historian and author Beverly Mills, who serves as a consultant and expert for the series. “If anything, we were taught to feel shame. And today…I feel nothing but pride and I feel empowered.”
According to Hutchinson, Truehart Productions has no plans at this time to extend the series beyond the planned episodes 3 and 4, but did not close the door on the possibility of future installments.
Truehart productions previously received incubation and action grants from NJCH in support of its work. Those funds went toward the establishment of a website, hiring consultants and a Lead Researcher for the project, and creating a promotional trailer. The co-production agreement with NJ PBS included $100,000 in additional funding that was needed for the first half of our production.
We also put a lot of value into the grant writing process. By writing the grant and articulating our thoughts while answering each question we are offered an opportunity for deep reflection about our mission, our storyline and our plan going forward. This is perhaps almost as valuable as the grant funds we are requesting. Writing the grant has given us a better understanding of our plan and that is paramount to any successful project.