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About This Project

2022-08-16 14_32_06-Diedra Meredith (_diedratmeredith) • Instagram photos and videos.png

Topic Summary

RE-SEGREGATION in schools is happening all over again. In an episode of Chris Hayes's "Why Is This Happening" Podcast (2018)Nikole Hannah-Jones explains why we continue to see segregation in schools and how, if at all, the education system can truly desegregate.

 

My mission in creating the The New Orleans Legacy Project was created to tell the WHOLE TRUTH about school segregation and why one of the most integral and pivotal moments in American History Civil Rights History in the Deep South was what some scholars have called the 2nd battle of New Orleans.....The New Orleans School Desegregation Crisis. I wanted to remind and educate Americans about this historical moment and how my generation and younger can learn DIRECTLY from the elders of The New Orleans Resistance Movement.  I wanted to educate via producing this  3 - part docuseries to raise awareness, honor and celebrate America's Little Soldier Girls - The New Orleans Four (Ruby Bridges, Gail Etienne, Tessie Prevost and Leona Tate) and the powerful freedom fighters of the New Orleans Resistance Movement who moved before them and with them. The series is a combination of historical news stories, commentary from the elders of the movement and musical performances from New Orleans' own culture keepers, musicians and performers. Millions don't know anything about New Orleans being the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement and how the FOUR  6-year-old girls became the legacy of a resistance movement that dates back to 1811 when the largest enslaved people revolt took place in Orleans Parish.

For such a time as this when our Black History is under attack, I felt that it is crucial to educate everyone via
Oral History first hand accounts from the living legends themselves. I created and launched The New Orleans Legacy Project because I wanted to do my part to PRESERVE BLACK HISTORY through the elders of the movement. I also wanted to address the illegitimate revision of the pivotal moment in American Civil Rights history that took place in New Orleans and Louisiana. As a black woman, I feel its my duty to take control of and CORRECT the illegitimate popular narrative about the school integration that omits integral facts about the FULL history of the school desegregation crisis in the Deep South; especially as it took place in New Orleans.
"The New Orleans Four were emissaries of justice and freedom. Turning the tide of hate in this nation and calling us towards the liberties enshrined in the United States Constitution." -- Alanah Odoms Executive Director ACLU Louisiana

Under my production company Sunstar Gate Productions LTD in partnership with the Historic New Orleans Collection museum (THNOC) and Fish Pot Studios, I stepped out on faith to do the work to ensure that my elders would also get their just due recognition for their courage, persistence and sacrifice. I am in the 3rd and final phase of producing and directing this film project that delves deep into the history of the New Orleans Resistance Movement. This project is not only a 3-part docuseries, IT'S A NEW FREEDOM FIGHTER MOVEMENT to ensure that this history is not left to be repeated! Our goal has been to simultaneously advocate and activate to make a significant impact for SOCIAL JUSTICE and create the CHANGE we want to see. As we complete part 3 of this docuseries, we are simultaneously moving forward with the nationwide Petition to make NEW ORLEANS FOUR DAY a nationally recognized holiday. We planned this launch so the petition can ignite the movement while we work to complete this film. It's time to DO THE RIGHT THING and right a wrong that has gone on for too long.

In
2020 for the 60th Anniversary of desegregation, I worked in partnership with the city of New Orleans to produce the New Orleans Four Proclamation Ceremony at Gallier Hall on November 14, 2020. On that beautiful morning, the City Council of New Orleans proclaimed NOVEMBER 14TH NEW ORLEANS FOUR DAY.  Our black history is sacred and undoing HISTORICAL NEGATION, and lifting up these FOUR little soldier girls and the powerful legacy of the elders of the New Orleans Resistance Movement is crucial NOW more than ever. Self serving Historical Revisionists have been on the move to illegitimately revise our black history and I say NOT ON MY WATCH! 

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Diedra Meredith

Please Make A Tax Deductible Donation

Please make a tax deductible donation to support our project and the completion of the final phase of the project. We've come a long way and need your support to finish this race. Thanks to a generous corporate gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, tax deductible and in kind donations from Friends of The Little Rock Nine, Plessy & Ferguson Foundation, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Fish Pot Studios, The Tollette Family and New Orleans National Park Service, we've been able to get this project to where we are. 

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New Orleans Legacy Project

New Orleans Legacy Project

Please Sign The Petition

Make New Orleans Four Day

A National Holiday

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November 14th is New Orleans Four Day in New Orleans, Louisiana! On November 14, 2020, on the 60th Anniversary of school desegregation, then City Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen led the City Council of New Orleans to honor the FOUR Civil Rights Pioneers with their own holiday! Mayor LaToya Cantrell also honored them with the long awaited Key To The City!

 

This year, on their 62nd Anniversary, we launched a nationwide petition on The Color of Change platform. Our goal is to gather 1.4 million signatures in our mission to make November 14th NEW ORLEANS FOUR DAY! nationwide

 

Once we have collected all the signatures, we will deliver them to Congress and to the President of the United States via a modern day Freedom Ride by bus and by train from New Orleans to Washington D.C.

Director's Notes

 

THE NEW ORLEANS LEGACY PROJECT 

Commemorating the Anniversary of School Desegregation and the New Orleans Resistance Movement

 

Logline:

Sunni Patterson hosts The New Orleans Legacy Project 3 - part docuseries to honor and celebrate America's little soldier girls (Leona Tate, Gail Etienne, Tessie Prevost and Ruby Bridges) and the powerful freedom fighters who moved before them and with them. 
Synopsis:

The New Orleans Four (Leona Tate, Gail Etienne, Tessie Prevost and Ruby Bridges) are the 6-year-old little soldier girls who became the LEGACY of the New Orleans Resistance Movement. As a part of the Anniversary of school desegregation, this docuseries tribute and celebration tells the story of the movement and how they became the youngest emissaries to execute the mission to desegregate schools in New Orleans and the Deep South.  

On November 14, 1960, the four girls became the first African Americans to legally defy the Jim Crow law of the land in New Orleans when they took those tiny giant steps to desegregate formerly white only public schools. They rocked the nation, moved the world and brought it home for the first Freedom Rider Homer Plessy. 


Dating as far back as 1811, New Orleans has always been the strong hold for the resistance and the fight for freedom, equality and justice. This 3-part docuseries is a tribute that celebrates New Orleans as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. Its both an educational and entertaining historical journey blending powerful oral history stories from New Orleans Freedom Fighters and Civil Rights Pioneers in their own words and news stories, with unique musical performances by New Orleans' own recording artists and culture keepers.  


As viewers journey through the history of the New Orleans Resistance Movement, they will explore the history of racism, segregation and integration in New Orleans and Louisiana. They will also learn how the beloved city of New Orleans played a pivotal and integral role in the success of the African American Civil Rights Movement. 

Viewers will come to understand how those four brave girls became the LEGACY of the New Orleans Resistance Movement as they endured countless acts of hatred and violence in the mission to put an end to the separate but equal Jim Crow laws of the land. They invigorated The Civil Rights Movement and sparked the inspiration for The Children’s Crusade of 1963

Artistic Approach

New Orleans is uniquely its own. In my years of travel and residing in other cities and countries, there's NO PLACE like New Orleans. The typical 3 act documentary approach simply could not contain this never-before told story of New Orleans, the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. 

 

This majestic city of New Orleans is too rich in music, artistic culture and expressions to not showcase it in this tribute. The beautiful, iconic and historical sites of the city are used as the backdrop for the performances and some of the historical introductions. I wanted to capture our cultural richness to educate the viewing audience about our historic landmarks while they learn about our powerful history.

 

I treasure the historic landmarks and lesser-known places in New Orleans that the general person would not know about when visiting our beloved city where we let the good times roll. Hence, I filmed on location with vibrant cinematic lighting to capture the performances of our New Orleans culture keepers, musicians, recording artists and presenters. 

My mission is to inspire viewers to celebrate the human spirit of our freedom fighters who were once young and full of fire like my generation and younger. I believe it's important to validate the marks our elders and ancestors made for us so we can stay connected to them and finish what they started.

 

While watching this celebratory docuseries, I want the viewer to feel the power of the movement, the spirit of the people and the inspiration of what it means to have the audacity of hope through the powerful first-hand accounts our Freedom Fighters and Civil Rights Pioneers in their own words. 

 

Creating this project gave me a sense of pride and hope because of how it shows what can happen when people of all racial backgrounds come together to create the CHANGE they want to see. It will also show young people that they have the power, that they have a say and that they have the wherewithal to stand their ground for freedom, equality and justice. 

Social Impact & Workforce Development

(Addressing Racial Inequity in Film & Television)
When I created the New Orleans Four Legacy Tribute I committed to being INTENTIONAL in uplifting Black girls and Black women in Civil Rights history. The New Orleans Four played an integral and pivotal role in the fight for our freedom and equal educational opportunities.

 

I also committed to advancing womxn in the film industry the Co-Director of this project is Elsa Kern and my paid apprentice Brittney Everfield will receive her first Producer credits. 

 

In addition, I committed to hiring a diverse crew and wanted to do my part to address the persistent inequities in the film and television industry by hiring Black off-screen talent on this production behind the camera in key roles. I hired a total of 4 African American young men on the film crew. 3 of them were skilled in camera operations. I hired Wron Kennedy as Jib Operator, Kraig Dixon as Camera Operator and LeVay Ballet as Camera Operator.  I also hired 2 apprentices Marshal Meggs as Grip and Sean Williams as Boom Operator. The 2 of them trained and worked on this production and had the rare opportunity to learn one on one from industry veterans. The apprentices were each paid an average of $300 per day. I intend to continue this work as I continue to produce and direct.

 

My partners in The Color Network (TCN)  and I will continue doing this intentional work, using our slate of combined projects & productions to serve our mission to address racial inequity in film, television and multi-media.

THE COLOR NETWORK

Advancing Womxn & Black/POC in Multimedia & Film

The Color Network (TCN) was co-founded by Diedra Meredith, Dr. Tia Smith and Dwan Adams and it was created and designed to provide education and paid hands on training that positions womxn and BIlack/POC for pathways to the many roles in the film and television industry.  This industry depends on reliable and qualitative service at every level and every minute of filming is expensive.  The network is important because it creates a new vision that puts womxn and Black/POC professionals in front of and behind the camera to finally be in control our narrative in telling our stories, our way. We are giving access to intergenerational storytellers, sustainable growth strategies and agency as we leverage the expertise of our creative disciplines.

Visit www.TheColorNetworkNola.com  to subscribe to our mailing list. FULL LAUNCH  of our website Coming Soon!

New Research
Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity

In March of 2021, McKinsey & Company firm  released an article "Black Representation in Film & TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity". According to their research, "the handful of Black creatives who are in prominent off-screen, “above the line” positions (that is, creator, producer, writer, or director) find themselves primarily responsible for providing opportunities for other Black off-screen talent. Unless at least one senior member of a production is Black, Black talent is largely shut out of those critical roles."

 

I am doing my best from where I stand as the creator, producer and director of this docuseries, but people like me need more support and access to capital. This year, the New Orleans film industry is expected to exceed 1 Billion Dollars. 90% of the off-screen talent are white and are not from New Orleans. 

Watch the 1:01 video created by research firm McKinsey & Company

The State of Black representation on and off screen (video)