MEET MACKY & SELINA
ACTS OF REPARATION is told in the first-person plural. Throughout the film, viewers will be guided by a voice-over conversation between two old friends. With different histories – the enslaver and the enslaved, the colonizer and the colonized, Macky and Selina are determined to figure out together what is possible to transform relationships, communities and this country. Their long friendship provides a backdrop of trust and candor as they set off on a journey that takes them from Penfield, Georgia to Des Moines, Iowa, from Oakland, California to Monroe, Louisiana.
Macky and Selina hit the road to connect with communities and movements across the country that are wrestling with the question of reparations and serving as models of grassroots activism. Here are some of the stories we are following:
The journey begins at Macky’s family plantation in Penfield, Georgia. When it is handed down to his generation, he sells his portion and gives the proceeds as an act of reparation to Southerners on New Ground (SONG), a Black-led, queer-led justice organization in the region. Meanwhile, Macky meets historian Mamie Hillman who, since 1995, has been building an African American museum near Penfield. Together they discover a lost Black cemetery just over the wall from where Macky’s white ancestors are buried, and they begin to plan its repair.
On a cloudy fall day, Black and white community members, including students from Mercer University whose founders are buried in the white cemetery, gather at the lost graveyard to pull weeds, hoist logs and clear stones.
Urged by folks at SONG to widen the circle, Selina and Macky set out to engage folks involved in the work of healing historic injury. All the while, Selina pushes Macky to examine his motives, to act with care, wondering to herself what reparation means to her, a Black woman in America with a complex heritage of enslaved Africans and displaced Cherokees along with German immigrants and New England pilgrims.
In Selina – and in the family that nurtured her – are embodied the many histories and legacies the film explores: African, European, and Native. Selina and Macky travel from Oakland where her family settled in the 1940’s, back to Monroe, Louisiana, for the reunion of her African American family. There we meet great aunts and cousins who are keepers of the family history. Selina descends from Ouachita Parish sharecroppers who worked on the Stubbs and King family plantations in 1910. These sharecropping ancestors later became land owning citizens.
What does reparations mean to Selina’s family and to people in Ouachita parish, the fifth deadliest lynching county in the US?
It begins with knowing and honoring the stories of her ancestors, buried, erased, disregarded - a task so transformative it inspires Selina to establish The Pink House, a center in Monroe for Black women and girls to do the same.
Rev. Dan Smith and the First Church Cambridge, a predominantly white congregation, join a nationwide “For Truth & Reparations” campaign to engage communities of faith wrestling with their own histories. Selina realizes that her white New England ancestors owned land in the Harvard area and she wonders about her family’s connection and complicity.
Malachi Larrabee-Garza is an entrepreneurial organizer for reparations who is committed to "experiments in action," from his work within the cannabis industry, to supporting Black trans women reclaiming land in Arkansas, to connecting members of the Movement for Black Lives with philanthropists, many of whom descend from enslaving families.
BAY AREA, CA
The Sogorea Té Land Trust is an urban, Indigenous, women-led organization in the Bay Area that returns Native lands to Native hands. Funded in part by a voluntary land tax of non-natives, Sogorea Te' is centered in Huchiun, the ancestral homeland of Confederated Villages of Lisjan, known as San Francisco’s East Bay. Through her connection to the Land Trust, Selina, a resident of the East Bay, reflects on the history of stolen Indigenous land to which her African American forebears fled during the Great Migration, as well as her own Cherokee roots.
DES MOINES, IA
Jen Harvey and Madison Deshay-Duncan, educators and activists, join other organizers to form the Truth and Repair Collective - addressing the devastating toll of urban renewal on the local Black community. Participants turn to the crew as they film and ask: “Who will own the footage you are shooting?” – raising the larger question of what a reparations ethic for documentary filmmaking might be.