Movie tells story of slavery in Washington

Published 8:00 pm Monday, February 21, 2022

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“Freedom of NC,” a locally produced movie that features the fictitious story set in the 1800s of a 14-year-old enslaved Black woman who dreams of a better life, will be shown this Saturday at the Turnage Theatre.

Produced by Beaufort County resident James Jones Jr., the film features the story of the fictitious Sarah Jones, who desires to leave the “Hoperville Plantation” in Washington.

The plantation featured in the movie is also fictitious, but it is meant to show the reality of slavery in Washington in the 1800s.  The film starts and finishes at the Underground Railroad Museum on Main Street, where founder Leesa Jones became one of the movie producer’s research partners.

Much of the information Jones supplied has been incorporated into the movie, including her favorite museum item of all – a bunch of black-eyed susan plants. According to Jones, escapees who needed to use symbols rather than words in their attempts to safely reach Pamlico River abolitionists would return to their plantations if they saw someone holding a bunch of those yellow flowers with the midnight-colored “eyes” in the center.

“They were a visual code that there were too many ‘eyes’ around, that they would be caught, that they needed to go back to their plantation and try again another time,” Jones said.

The cinematic retelling of the struggles and victories among those seeking freedom from slavery is filled with period-appropriate music as well as modern compositions that mirror the mood of the characters in the two-hour film.

Masks are still encouraged for those who attend. Doors open at the Turnage Theatre at 6 p.m. The movie will begin at 7 p.m. An exhibit about the slavery era will be open in the gallery, where beverages and movie-related merchandise will also be offered for sale. Tickets are $15 each.