It’s official! We wrapped the film in December at Skywalker Studios and Zoetrope Aubry Productions in the Bay area.  It was an absolutely amazing experience. The music score composed by Derek Nakamoto is phenomenal and Grammy award winning blues artist Keb’Mo’ composed and sang an incredible original end credits song. Our film is running at 59 minutes.

We could not have made this happen without you!

We’re now on to the distribution phase and our first stop will be at the Harlem International Film Festival on opening night May 6th for a 7:50 PM screening at AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 Theatres. Due to Covid restrictions there will only be a handful of films screened live on opening night, and 100 Years From Mississippi is one of them. In addition, we’re proud to announce that our film was also nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s festival.

There is a limited capacity of 50 seats maximum in a 285 seat theater. Tickets are $17. If you would like to attend the live screening in New York City please visit the ticket link here: Harlem International Film Festival.

t is our profound hope that everyone is healthy and safe. Please take care of yourselves, your family, friends and neighbors and follow the fundamentals of public health. We need fierce, compassionate and thoughtful actions to open the way for transformation in this moment.

“Be a mountain or lean on one.”

– Somali Proverb

I hope this message finds everyone healthy and safe. Even though regulations are beginning to relax across the country, we are still in the first steps of a long road back. We hope that everyone has a successful return to their personal and business lives.

Although we are still reflecting deeply on the loss of Mamie Kirkland, the star of our film and a giant in our personal lives, we know that we have been blessed to have had her with us for so long. Her guiding light is still shining radiantly upon us and we are more committed than ever to finishing our project.

Our plans with the completion and release of 100 Years From Mississippi, like the plans of everyone else around the world have been altered by this pandemic. But we are still making great progress during this downtime. Our composer, Derek Nakamoto, is finishing up all of the music sketches for the film score. We also hired an archivist who is securing all of our high resolution photo and footage images to be edited into our final cut of the film. Our beginning conversations with potential distributors have gone silent, so we must remain patient in figuring out our distribution strategy. But there is much to be thankful for and excited about in the midst of this unprecedented moment.

We’ve already secured destinations to do the film’s postproduction work at two studios in San Francisco. Once business begins to open back up again we will be doing the post production video work at ZAP Zoetrope Aubry Productions and our post production sound work at the world famous Skywalker Studios. Our connection with both studios began over 45 years ago with two colleagues who were starting their public radio careers at the same time I was at KPFA-FM in Berkeley. Kim Aubry is now the head of ZAP Zoetrope Aubry Productions and Randy Thom is now the head of sound production at Skywalker Studios. These are two very exciting developments and whenever the work begins we will be ready and prepared to move forward.

“Every crisis, actual or impending, needs to be viewed as an opportunity to bring about profound changes in our society.”

– Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution

It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Mamie Lang Kirkland.

Mamie was born in Ellisville, Mississippi on September 3, 1908, the second child of Edward Lang, a Baptist minister and Rochelle Moore, a housewife and domestic. Her four siblings including Rosetta, Elizabeth, Edward and Lucille have all preceded her in death as has her father’s children from his second marriage, Sonny, Marion, Richard, James, Evelyn, Benny and Ossie.  Mamie would describe herself as an ordinary person, but she lived an extraordinary life, not only for its longevity but for her mastery of spiritual awareness and gratitude. She has attracted legions of friends and admirers from New York to California. In her later years she garnered national recognition for her courageous return to Mississippi made the front page of the New York Times.

When Mamie was born, slavery had only been abolished for forty-three years. It was the year the first Ford Model T was manufactured. In her lifetime she saw two world wars, the Great Depression, the Atomic Bomb and the first man on the moon. She lived through twenty presidents and the first black president, which she never imagined would happen in her lifetime.

She was a 4-foot, 9-inch spitfire, a living rock of ages who survived all manner of hardships with a forceful determination. When she was seven, her family fled Mississippi to escape her father’s lynching and that of a family friend. She lived through the 1917 East St. Louis race riots and survived the Red Summer of 1919, a period of the most violent anti-black terrorism in U.S. history. She and her family later survived a KKK cross burning on their front lawn in Alliance Ohio. She even marched with Marcus Garvey!

At the age of five she suffered a bout of “typhoid/malaria fever,” as she described it. The doctor was powerless to save her, and she testified that she died and went to heaven, experiencing its splendor. Her grandmother, Easter Moore, a midwife and herbalist, gathered herbs in her apron and administered a tea to her ailing grandchild. Mamie experienced a miraculous recovery. Her near death experience remained vivid in her memory and established her relationship with God at an early age. From that point her family called her “Gold Baby” because they said she was a miracle child.

Mamie loved to read, did well in school and aspired to be an English teacher, until she fell in love with Albert Kirkland, a railroad worker and boarder in her father’s house in Ohio. She married at 15 then moved to Buffalo, New York. She was still a child when she bore the first of her nine children: Richard, Mildred, Donald, Juanita, Beatrice, Carole, Margaret, Jeanette, and Albert Jr. (AKA: Tarabu), six of whom survived. Her husband taught her to cook, and the Great Depression taught her to manage, feed and house an extended family escaping the Jim Crow South.

When she was 49, she lost her husband of 35 years, 3 months and 16 days. In 1963 Mamie began her career as an Avon Lady, walking door to door in Buffalo, selling beauty products to support herself and her last child and only son, Tarabu. She was a loving listener and ministered to her many customers. It was during this time she developed her dynamic personal style as a “fashionista,” using her sparkle to light up a room until her final days.

In 2015, Tarabu convinced Mamie to return to Mississippi to confront the story that had haunted her family for a century – the lynching of her father’s friend John Hartfield, who initially escaped with him, but decided to go back. Her journey was capturedon the front page of the New York Times. It also inspired her son to tell her story in his film: “100 YEARS FROM MISSISSIPPI.” Since then, she has been honored by the Equal Justice Initiative in 2016 with their Lynching Legacy Award in New York City, and in 2018 receiving the Champion of Justice award at their opening of the Legacy Museum and the Peace and Justice Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Her story, photographs and oral history are on permanent display at the Legacy Museum.

Mamie was the living matriarch of six generations resulting in 158 grands and greats. At the time of her death, she was Buffalo’s oldest living citizen and the second oldest in New York State. At her beloved First Shiloh Baptist Church, Mamie was an active foundational member for over 85 years. She inspired everyone she met to be positive, and to use her favorite phrase: “don’t rush your life away, live it away with the Lord.”

We Will Always Love You!

“When she speaks, her words are wise and she gives instructions with kindness.”
– Proverbs 31:26

“Not, how did she die, but how did she live?
Not what did she gain, but what did she give?
These are the units that measure the worth
Of a woman, as a woman, regardless of her birth.”
– Anonymous

News Articles on Mamie’s Passing:

NYT Obituary: Mamie Kirkland, Witness to an Era of Racial Terror, Dies at 111

WKBW Buffalo: Oldest Buffalo Resident Dies at Age 111

NBC 2 WGRZ: Oldest WNY Woman Dies at Age 111 (video)

NBC 2 WGRZ: Buffalo’s Oldest Resident, Mamie Kirkland, dies at 111

The Buffalo News: Mamie Lang Kirkland, Buffalo’s Oldest Citizen, Dies at 111

We’re ending the year with a flourish! We celebrated Mamie’s 110th birthday in September and successfully matched our $10,000 gift.

We went back to Mississippi in October to film aerial shots and also to conduct a soil collection for John Hartfield, the lynching victim in Ellisville in 1919 who fled with her father and his collection is now enshrined in the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama (visit our photo gallery).

In November, we hired a new editor, Cassandra Chowdhury, who is awesome, and we finished a new fundraising promotional trailer which you can view here:

We still have to raise our post production costs, but progress has been good and we’re anticipating completion of a rough cut of the film by the end of year. Many thanks to everyone that has contributed thus far. Have a blessed and peaceful holiday season.

In April, we had the distinct honor of attending and filming the opening of the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Thank you to everyone who contributed with your donations and thoughts to help us on our epic journey. Our story which is one of the featured narratives on the Equal Justice Initiative’s website, Lynching in America, is a permanent installation in the museum. You can view that feature at:

The museum and memorial are staggering in beauty and impact, artfully constructed and powerfully curated and I believe puts Montgomery on the map as a national destination. It is an experience that captures your attention and elevates the collective demand for justice. The museum is constructed on the site of former warehouse where black people were enslaved in Montgomery, Alabama, to drawn dynamic connections across generations of Americans impacted by the tragic history of racial inequality. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice sits on a six-acre site and was conceived as a sacred space for truth telling and reflection about racial terror in America and its legacy.

Bryan Stevenson invited Mamie to the stage at an opening night reception where over a thousand guests were in attendance. As we waited backstage to be called, he delivered a stirring introduction about a little girl of seven years old whose family fled Mississippi fearing racial violence only to be caught in the web of racial terror and violence that followed them in the East St. Louis race riots and the Klan cross burning in front of their home in Ohio. When he said that little seven-year old girl is with us tonight and she is now 109 years old, the crown went wild. Mamie walked on stage to a standing ovation where she was given a Champion of Justice medallion. She then asked for the mic and told the crowd, “I will never forget,” and she received another standing ovation.She was greeted afterwards by Jesse Jackson, Alfre Woodward, Janelle Monet, Gina Belafonte and Danny Glover among many others. It really was an epic moment. We have deep respect and gratitude for the amazing work and generosity we have experienced from the Equal Justice Initiative.And again thank you to everyone for all your support.

100 Years From Mississippi is a 40-minute documentary about the amazing journey of Mamie Kirkland’s flight from Mississippi and her family’s perilous migration from the Jim Crow south to escape her father’s lynching, murders of African-Americans on the streets of East St. Louis and KKK cross burnings on their lawn in Ohio. At 108 she has become a celebrated elder whose story has captured the front page of the New York Times.

Your tax-deductible donation – large or small, will help us finish our important documentary that links this terrible past with the challenges of today.

Exciting news from the 100 Years from Mississippi film project! We are honored that our story, narrated by Tarabu, is featured in a groundbreaking new website launched by Equal Justice Initiative in collaboration with Google.

“Lynching in America” documents over 4000 lynchings and Mamie’s story is the first feature in the “LISTEN” section. Explore this powerful new website and share it with your friends and colleagues. Let history remind us what we need to do today!

Watch Lynching in America below.

Listen to all stories from Lynching in America

ELLISVILLE, Miss. — The dark S.U.V. rented for the occasion stopped outside the one-story City Hall. A wheelchair was rolled up to receive a petite passenger wearing a baseball cap dappled with sparkles, her hair gray-white, her skin mocha brown, her socks hot pink.

Settling into the chair, Mamie Lang Kirkland took a quick look around. It had been a while. About a century.

When she was 7, her family fled Ellisville amid talk of lynchings. On to Illinois, where white mobs rioted. To Ohio, where the Klan raised torches. To western New York, where she and her steelworker husband had nine children, and the one miscarriage she always includes in her account…

View full interview here