Our eyes are the windows to our soul, and within our soul are the spirits of our ancestors. As I watched Gina's Journey: The Search for William Grimes, I was moved to tears and inspired by the sacrifices of Regina Mason and William Grimes. The tears symbolized for me the cries of our ancestors to not be forgotten. The docudrama revealed to me that if we limit access to the voices of the past and present, we limit the survival of our ancestors in history. We cannot let that happen. Nana Poussaint said in the Daughters of the Dust "We are the children of those who chose to survive." Having Gina's Journey:The Search for William Grimes shown around the country would ensure that our ancestors will continue to survive in history.
Descendant of Jeffrey Brace
The subject of the Slave Narrative The Blind African, 1810
I watched in stunned admiration and profound appreciation Gina's Journey: The Search for William Grimes; Regina (Gina) Mason's two decades of painstaking research resulted in over 200 years of historic documentation, back to her great, great, great grandfather William Grimes and his autobiography of 1825. What an achievement! To view this first class, A++, documentary film was and is an Awesome experience.
-Tami A. Bell
American History Teacher, School Administrator
"Gina's Journey", a powerful and moving documentary film that PASSIONATELY recreates the history and the SPIRIT of the life of William Grimes, the first runaway slave in American History to write and publish a slave narrative.
Descendant of African autobiographer Venture Smith
Gina's Journey creatively intertwines two stories of resilience, resourcefulness, labor, and love. William Grimes published the first American slave narrative, famously "Written by Himself." Through the words of his descendant Regina E. Mason, this film presents a riveting drama of her rediscovery of his extraordinary life and historic memoirs. An odyssey filled with both laughter and tears, Gina's Journey explores the past to find richness and relevance in the stories and storytellers remembered from enslavement. It is an essential, accessible film and call to activism by the heroic Americans like Grimes who escaped slavery and rallied against it.
Professor of English, University of Georgia
This remarkable film takes us on several unforgettable journeys. The first is that of the nineteenth-century slave William Grimes who was sold from master to master, eventually escaped slavery, and headed North to find freedom; the second that of his descendant Regina Mason who journeyed from ignorance of the history of slavery to discovery of her enslaved ancestor through painstaking research in the archives. But it is also the journey of viewers who through this film gain new appreciation of family history as an important tool for making and narrating history. Finally, it is a sobering reminder to all of us that our journey to freedom in the United States has not yet been fulfilled.
-Carla L. Peterson
Author, Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City
Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes is a transformative and powerful film. Re-introducing the story of her ancestor, the author of the first fugitive slave narrative in American history, is powerful in its own right. The parallel story of Regina Mason’s determination and commitment to unearth, and then share, the story is equally important. The combination of these two stories makes for a compelling and riveting film. So much of American history has been forgotten; often deliberately hidden to cover up the unsavory and horrific parts. Gina and Sean Durant have done a magnificent job of shining a bright light on an important story that helps all of us understand our nation and ourselves more honestly and clearly.
Executive Director of Coming to the Table and part of the award winning documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North
I recently had the distinct pleasure to view the film " Gina's Journey: The Search for William Grimes"; a most extraordinary and important documentary film. My appreciation for this film includes its professional production, its heartfelt narrative, and the fact that it exposes and expounds on one of our important enslaved ancestor's narratives. These stories must be included as essential educational tools in our schools, churches and in our community if we as a nation are to truthfully inform ourselves as we journey to a healing place, despite our shared traumatic American history of slavery.
-Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely
Great, great granddaughter of William and Ellen Craft, an enslaved couple who escaped slavery from Macon, Georgia in 1848.
Gina's Journey dramatizes two fascinating and inspiring quests: an enslaved man's struggle to be free and then to write and self-publish his story, and his descendant's triumphant effort to reclaim and republish that story. At this moment in American history, these narratives of resistance, truth-telling, perseverance, and victory could not be more timely or more important.
Partnership for the Public Good
Captivating. Inspiring. Unforgettable. A historically significant, aesthetically innovative film, Gina's Journey dramatizes two powerful stories: the heart-wrenching travails of William Grimes, the first fugitive slave to author his own memoir (1825), and the dogged determination of his descendant, Regina Mason, to discover long-hidden truths about her forebears' lives. Mason's hunger for knowledge propels her to overcome silences, gaps, and erasures that are entrenched in American education, historical archives, and public spaces. With the artistry of director Sean Durant, Gina's quest yields transformative knowledge to every viewer.
Kari J. Winter
Executive Director of the Humanities Institute (interim)
Professor of American Studies
Department of Transnational Studies
University at Buffalo