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Arts / Culture

FSU Filmmaker's Documentary About North Florida Slave Era Gains National Showcase

 Florida State University Film Professor Valerie Scoon
Florida State University Film Professor Valerie Scoon

Valerie Scoon's "Invisible History: Middle Florida's Hidden Roots" airs on PBS Thursday, May 20.

A Tallahassee filmmaker's searing look at the era of slavery in North Florida will soon be seen across America.

Florida State University Film Professor Valerie Scoon said she was a bit stunned to learn her documentary: "Invisible History: Middle Florida's Hidden Roots," was getting a nationwide platform.

"I didn't know if it was going to be a regional story, or whether it was going to be national. That was gratifying to see that within the Public Television world, it's going to have a national release. I didn't envision that at all. And I didn't envision times changing, either."

That's because, Scoon observed, much has happened since she and her team completed the project.

"Theresa Marsenburg was my co-producer at the Florida Channel and she and I thought about this project in 2018 so it was a different year before COVID and before the murder of George Floyd. But now that we are here, and finally releasing our documentary, I am grateful and hopeful about the widening discussion. I hope this documentary plays a role in that."

In addition to the national screening of "Invisible History," Scoon said there will be a literal discussion regarding the presentation and the events that motivated it.

"The documentary's going to be broadcast on WFSU, which has been the presenting station to American Public Television. It's going to air on May 20th and 9 p.m. There's going to be a panel discussion at WFSU with a few of the interviewees this Thursday on the 13th at 7 p.m. That's going to be on Facebook live."

Still, Scoon believed the remnants of that shameful part of America's heritage will not yield easily to eradication.

"Some of the legacies, the economics, and some of the social (components) persist, and so that's part of what we have to attune ourselves to looking for those legacies so we can address them."

In the meantime, FSU Filmmaker Valerie Scoon was delighted that her effort to uncover a dark time in the nation's history will soon have a national audience. And she was quick to extend credit to the others involved in the project.

"A lot of people in the Film School were helpful. My cinematographer was Mark Vargo, a teacher at the Film School and my editor was an alum. And also the community was very supportive. I had support from The Grove and Goodwood and FAMU Archives, Tallahassee Museum and the Riley House. So many entities were supportive of this and I feel it was a collaborative effort with very, very strong community support."

Find this Thursday evening's panel discussion on "Invisible History: Middle Florida's Hidden Roots" on the WFSU Public Media Facebook page. The national airing of the documentary on PBS will be May 20th at 9 p.m. Eastern time on WFSU-TV.

Copyright 2021 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

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