“Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles”, a documentary by New Orleans native Elvin Ross that is creating buzz around the country, will be shown in New Orleans on Feb. 25 – 26. The film traces the life of the celebrated captive African, Kunta Kinteh; his journey to America; his brutal enslavement; his triumphant survival through harrowing circumstances; focuses on his lasting family legacy through the profiles of his relatives who still live in the village of Juffereh in Gambia, West Africa today; and shares his recent symbolic return to the point of his captivity—James Island, Gambia—which was formally renamed Kunta Kinteh Island Feb. 6, 2011.
The New Orleans event consists of three screenings from Feb. 25 – 26 at Loyola University, St. Augustine High School and the Audubon Tea Room. All events in New Orleans and around the country will benefit the Albreda Juffereh Primary School in Kinteh’s impoverished Gambian village.
Produced by Elvin Ross Studios, the film was made to educate a new generation of Americans about the legendary warrior, to be a philanthropic effort to raise funds for the Albreda Jeffereh Primary School in Kinteh’s impoverished Gambian village, and to develop an academic curriculum companion for the film.
Ross says his hope is that the film will also encourage African-Americans, especially young people, to learn more about and embrace their own family legacies and stories.
“I would like for them to see themselves in Kunte Kinteh Island,” he says. “Every family’s story can become a legacy. Just start talking about where they are and where they come from and gain a sense of pride.”
The film is also being widely supported by academia with planned tour stops at influential institutions including Harvard University, Morehouse College, Wayne State University and Northeastern University.
The documentary also has the support of many prominent African Americans, including writer, director and actor Tyler Perry, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, actor Ben Vereen, as well as many other entertainment, civic and spiritual leaders.
The events in each city will feature celebrity and VIP guests, and offer a first opportunity to view the film and to lend financial support to the Elvin Ross Foundation. The Foundation will provide general funding, books and solar laptops to the primary school. Select cities will also host black tie galas or thoughtful panel discussions on the documentary, to raise additional funds for the Gambian school.
The film’s African history tour visits New Orleans with multiple events, including an educational symposium at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 at Loyola University’s Nunemaker Hall, a special screening for students at St. Augustine High School with Vereen at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, and a black tie event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Audubon Tea Room, where a humanitarian award will be presented to honor Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson by National Urban League CEO and President Marc Morial.