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The African American Midwest: A 400 Year Fight for Freedom is being developed by leading scholars of the African American Midwest, Midwest public television broadcasters, filmmakers, and production partners.

Meet the Team
Consulting Producers
headshot of Christy Clark-Pujara

Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara
Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
professional photo of Lend Frison

Lend Slay Frison III
Director/Executive Producer/CEO, La Mancha Film Co.
headshot of Jenna Hanchard

Jenna Hanchard
Host, Lola's Ink Podcast
photo of Don Hancock holding award

Donald Hancock
Professor, University of Cincinnati
headshot of Ashley Howard

Dr. Ashley Howard
Professor, University of Iowa
headshot of Christy Clark-Pujara

Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara
Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
professional photo of Lend Frison

Lend Slay Frison III
Director/Executive Producer/CEO, La Mancha Film Co.
headshot of Jenna Hanchard

Jenna Hanchard
Host, Lola's Ink Podcast
photo of Don Hancock holding award

Donald Hancock
Professor, University of Cincinnati
headshot of Ashley Howard

Dr. Ashley Howard
Professor, University of Iowa
headshot of Erik McDuffie

Dr. Erik McDuffie
Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
photo of Crystal Moten laughing

Dr. Crystal Moten
Professor, American University | Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
headshot of Terrion Williamson

Dr. Terrion L. Williamson
Professor, University of Minnesota
headshot of Chris Wilson

Christopher W. Wilson
Director, African American History Program, Smithsonian National Museum of American History Founder and Director, History Film Forum
headshot of Erik McDuffie

Dr. Erik McDuffie
Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
photo of Crystal Moten laughing

Dr. Crystal Moten
Professor, American University | Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
headshot of Terrion Williamson

Dr. Terrion L. Williamson
Professor, University of Minnesota
headshot of Chris Wilson

Christopher W. Wilson
Director, African American History Program, Smithsonian National Museum of American History Founder and Director, History Film Forum
Meet the Team
Advisors
headshot of Daniel Bergin
Daniel Bergin
Executive Producer, Twin Cities Public Television
headshot of Ruth Ezell
Ruth Ezell
Senior Producer, Nine PBS/St. Louis
headshot of Jim Kerchherr
Jim Kirchherr
Senior Director of Content, Nine PBS/St. Louis
headshot of Daniel Bergin
Daniel Bergin
Executive Producer, Twin Cities Public Television
headshot of Ruth Ezell
Ruth Ezell
Senior Producer, Nine PBS/St. Louis
headshot of Jim Kerchherr
Jim Kirchherr
Senior Director of Content, Nine PBS/St. Louis
Meet the Team
Staff
headshot of Robert Carlock
Robert Carlock
Assistant Producer/Social Media Producer
black-and-white headshot of Dan Manatt
Dan Manatt
Coordinating Producer
headshot of Hannah Rea
Hannah Rea
Assistant Producer/Social Media Producer
headshot of Travis Wright
Travis Wright
Production Fellow/Social Media Producer
headshot of Robert Carlock
Robert Carlock
Assistant Producer/Social Media Producer
black-and-white headshot of Dan Manatt
Dan Manatt
Coordinating Producer
headshot of Hannah Rea
Hannah Jad Rea
Assistant Producer/Social Media Producer
headshot of Travis Wright
Travis Wright
Production Fellow/Social Media Producer

Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara

Consulting Producer
Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Christy Clark-Pujara is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose research focuses on the experiences of black people in French and British North America in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. She is particularly interested in retrieving the hidden and unexplored histories of African Americans in areas that historians have not sufficiently examined—small towns and cities in the North and Midwest.

Her first book Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island (NYU Press, 2016), examines how the business of slavery—economic activity that was directly related to the maintenance of slaveholding in the Americas, specifically the buying and selling of people, food, and goods—shaped the experience of slavery, the process of emancipation, and the realities of black freedom in Rhode Island from the colonial period through the American Civil War.

Her current book project, Black on the Midwestern Frontier: From Slavery to Suffrage in the Wisconsin Territory, 1725—1868, examines how the practice of race-based slavery, black settlement, and debates over abolition and black rights shaped white-black race relations in the Midwest.

Lend Slay Frison III

Cinematographer/Consulting Producer
Director/Executive Producer/CEO, La Mancha Film Co.

Lend is a veteran film director and photographer with nearly 20 years in the industry. Adding a unique component to Lend’s background are his ten years as a high school English teacher in the Omaha Public School District. Lend has previously functioned as an Executive Director and Director of Photography. His most recent film, Civil, the prelude to the Will Brown Project, has been widely praised.

Jenna Hanchard

Consulting Producer
Host, Lola's Ink Podcast

Jenna is an Emmy- and Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and podcast host and producer.  Her project “Rooted in Liberation”, explored the modern momentum in the Black Liberation movement won the Edward R. Murrow Award. Jenna’s series Race & Sports won a regional Emmy, and her Race & Parenting series won an Emmy nomination.  Hanchard hosts the “Lola’s Ink” podcast, telling stories of Black girl liberation. A former news anchor for NBC affiliate KSHB/KMCI in Kansas City, Jenna’s current project, “Lola’s Ink”, is a biweekly podcast using interviews and anecdotes to share stories of Black girl liberation.

Donald Hancock

Consulting Producer
Professor, University of Cincinnati

Donald Hancock is an Emmy Award-winning producer at CET, Cincinnati’s PBS Member Station, and professor at the University of Cincinnati. Hancock won a Regional Emmy Award for “Cincinnati’s Music Hall: The Next Movement,” a 60-minute documentary that he co-wrote, produced and shot. The documentary details the historic $150 million renovation of Cincinnati’s National Historic Landmark.  Hancock has also partnered with WGBH and PBS to produce content around national programming including “Finding Your Roots,” “American Experience” and “Downton Abbey.”  He serves on the Executive Board for the UC Center for Film and Media Studies, as well as the community advisory board at Elementz Urban Arts Center. He is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, a member of the Broadcast Education Association.

Dr. Ashley Howard

Consulting Producer
Professor, University of Iowa

Ashley Howard received her PhD in history from the University of Illinois. She joined the University of Iowa faculty in fall 2019 coming from Loyola University, New Orleans. Her research interests include African Americans in the Midwest; the intersection between race, class, and gender; and the global history of racial violence. Her manuscript Prairie Fires: Class, Gender, and Regional Intersections in the 1960s Urban Rebellions analyzes the 1960s urban rebellions in the Midwest, grounded in the way race, class, gender, and region played critical and overlapping roles in defining resistance to racialized oppression.

Dr. Howard’s work has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, BBC World News Hour, Al Jazeera, Financial Times, Washington Post and NPR. Her “Then the Burnings Began” article is the winner of the 2018 James L. Sellers Memorial Prize.

As an educator, Dr. Howard’s primary goal is to teach students to be effective writers, critical thinkers, and active world citizens. Students in her classes develop skills through hands-on learning, like processing questionnaires for the Louisiana on Lockdown report. She is also dedicated to sharing her scholarly knowledge outside of the traditional campus community. Specifically, Howard has greatly valued teaching opportunities where she can provide quality, university-level education to those with limited access, including underserved schools and correctional facilities.

Dr. Erik McDuffie

Consulting Producer
Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Erik S. McDuffie is an Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). His research and teaching interests include the African diaspora, the Midwest, black feminism, black queer theory, black radicalism, urban history, and black masculinity.  He is the author of Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism, winner of the 2012 Wesley-Logan Prize from the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the 2011 Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians. Professor McDuffie’s latest book in progress is Garveyism in the Diasporic Midwest: The American Heartland and Global Black Freedom,1920-80. 

Dr. McDuffie earned his Ph.D. in history in 2003 from New York University, and was a 2016 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship winner.

Originally from Detroit, McDuffie is a sixth generation Midwesterner.

Dr. Crystal Moten

Consulting Producer
Professor, American University
Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Dr. Crystal Moten is curator of African American History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in the Division of Work and Industry.

A Chicago native and a Midwesterner through and through, Dr. Moten focuses on the intersection of race, class, and gender to uncover the hidden histories of Black people in the Midwest.

She has been a contributor to the Journal of Civil and Human Rights; Souls Magazine; and The Strange Careers of the Jim Crow North: Segregation and Struggle Outside the South. Her forthcoming book is entitled Continually Working: Black Women’s Economic Activism in Postwar Milwaukee.  At the Smithsonian, she was co-curator of the exhibit The Only One in the Room: Women Achievers in Business and the Cost of Success.

Dr. Crystal Moten received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in Saint Louis where she majored in Anthropology and African American Studies, and her Ph.D. in Afro American Studies and History from the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Terrion L. Williamson

Consulting Producer
Professor, University of Minnesota

Terrion Williamson is founding director of the Black Midwest Initiative, and an associate professor of African American & African Studies and American Studies and affiliate faculty member in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota.

A native of Peoria, Illinois, she is the editor of Black in the Middle: An Anthology of the Black Midwest, and author of Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life.  She is currently working on a book titled We Cannot Live Without Our Lives: Black Women, Serial Murder, and the American Midwest.  Her research and teaching specializations include black feminist theory, twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature, black cultural studies, midwestern studies, and racialized gender violence.

Christopher W. Wilson

Consulting Producer
Director, African American History Program, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Founder and Director, History Film Forum

Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s African American History Program since June 2004, Chris Wilson oversees the Program’s rich collection of oral histories, interviews, and recordings.

Chris is founder of the History Film Forum, a film festival and discussion forum exploring history on the screen funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Smithsonian’s History Alive! theater programs, which offer interactive and emotional presentations of stories of America’s past that resonate in the nation’s present; and the National Youth Summit series, which seeks to engage high school students nationally and internationally in conversation about relevant history.

Chris received his B.A. in History and English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, and his M.A. in History from Wayne State University.  His research specialties include African American history, slavery and emancipation, the Civil Rights Movement, and baseball.

Daniel Bergin

Executive Producer, Twin Cities Public Television

Daniel Bergin has been TPT’s leading history filmmaker for the last decade. He’s worked on TPT films such as the Lost Twin Cities series, Out North, Jim Crow of the North, and many more, covering diverse topics all rooted in Minnesota history. Citizen, a closer look at women’s suffrage in Minnesota, is his latest debuting in October. His experience growing up on the south side of Minneapolis informs his storytelling, often encapsulating the hardships and struggles surrounding many iconic Minnesota stories but always looking for a seed of hope. With a career built on connecting with strangers and capturing their stories on film, Bergin has an impassioned interest in all people and their individual experiences.

Ruth Ezell

Senior Producer, Nine PBS/St. Louis

A professional producer, anchor, reporter, and on-air host, Ruth Ezell excels at monitoring national and international news sources to identify opportunities for feature stories. She’s looked to as a leading storyteller in St. Louis with more than ten years experience in collaborating with public relations professionals, and fifteen years of experience in managing interns in the areas of archiving, storytelling and interviewing skills.

Jim Kirchherr

Senior Director of Content, Nine PBS/St. Louis

Since joining the Nine Network in 1991, Jim Kirchherr has overseen production of local broadcasts and digital content, documentaries, public affairs specials, and town halls. As a producer, host and writer, he has won 26 regional Emmy® Awards. In 2018, St. Louis honored his work by inducting him into the city’s Media Hall of Fame. His most recent regional Emmy was in the feature segment category for his work on a program featuring a Washington University laboratory studying the abilities of swarms of cyborg locusts to use their antennae to sniff out explosives.

Robert Carlock

Assistant Producer/Social Media Producer

Robert Carlock is currently a digital history scholar and PhD student at George Mason University. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio which became the subject of his master’s thesis “A New (Bowling Green State) University: Educational Activism, Social Change, and Campus Protest in the Long Sixties.” This study analyzes a tradition of student activism on the campus, including protests against in loco parentis policies, antiwar rallies, and efforts to diversify the university community and curriculum. His interest in social movements and the Midwest, especially as they intersect with education, drives his research. Robert’s core role in the documentary is the inclusion of digital history methodology and research. His recent experience as an affiliate at the Roy Rosensweig Center for History and New Media at GMU has introduced him to new methodologies for creating visualizations and analyzing sources, most evident in the interactive StoryMaps present throughout the documentary website.

Dan Manatt

Coordinating Producer

Dan Manatt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and director of The Republic of Baseball: The First Dominican Superstars and Civil Rights Heroes; Whiskey Cookers: The Templeton Rye Bootleggers; and The Fort: 177 Years of Crime & Punishment at the Iowa State Penitentiary.  Before his media career, he worked as a Capitol Hill election reform lawyer and advocate.  In 1999 he transitioned to Digital Media, working for the pioneering web video website FreedomChannel.com and PoliticsTV.com, which he founded.  He writes a column on Midwest history for the Carroll, Iowa Times-Herald.

Hannah Rea

Assistant Producer/Social Media Producer

Hannah Rea is lead producer for the documentary’s Underground Railroad, Exoduster, Buffalo Soldier, and Native American units.

Born and raised in the Midwest, she studied history and journalism at Indiana University.  Her research interests include Native American Midwest history, small town Midwest life, 19th/20th century American history, and the culture of fandom, especially in sci-fi/fantasy genres.

Her past research projects include “Archaeology and the Press: Following Newspaper Coverage of the Angel Mounds Historic Site,” which was presented at the 2019 Midwestern History Conference in Grand Rapids, MI.

Travis Wright

Production Fellow/Social Media Producer

Travis Wright is a Ph.D. student studying modern U.S. history. His areas of research include 20th century African American history, social movements, community activism, and student protest. His work centers issues of race, culture, citizenship, and power – particularly during the Progressive Era and post-WWII period. Travis is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in History from Bowling Green State University. His M.A. thesis, “The Chicago Area Friends of SNCaC, the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, and the Chicago Struggle for Freedom During the 1960s,” examined the role of SNCC and student activism in the Chicago Freedom Movement. His most recent publication “Social Media and Continuity in the Black Freedom Struggle,” analyzes the relationship between visual culture and Black protest. Travis has instructed courses in both modern U.S. and modern world history. He is currently an editorial assistant for the Journal of American History.