The Voices
For more than 300 years Africans were carried from their homeland, across the Atlantic Ocean ("The Middle Passage"), into chattel slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean. The residual impact of this African Holocaust still reverberates in the world today through psychological trauma, genetic memory, personal and community consciousness.  Cultural artists, along with historians and healers, look at present day behavior that is connected to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and use music, dolls, dance, altars, spoken word, visual art and ritual to create paths to healing.   A film by S. Pearl Sharp.

Featuring Riua Akinshegun, Ysaye M. Barnwell, Oscar Brown,Jr., Katrina Browne, Tom Feelings, Haile Gerima, Chester Higgins Jr., Gil Noble, Babatunde Olatunji, John Outterbridge, Dadisi Sanyika, S. Pearl Sharp, and CCH Pounder as the Voice of the Ancestors.

With commentary by historian Dr. Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan (Dr. Ben), Goree Island curator Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye, health professionals Lola Kemp and Dr. Olivia Cousins, Maafa Conference founder Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood and the artistry of blues man Brother Yusef, bassist Nedra Wheeler, writer/singer Shonda Buchannan (Nyesha Khalfani), doll maker Angela Briggs, visual artists Ra6 and Abbey Onikoyi.


 
Riua Akinshegun installation artist, dollmaker
Working in batiks, prints, ceramic masks, sculpture and African wrap dolls, Riua has exhibited in Surinam, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria and the U.S. This film was inspired by her interactive installation on the slave trade, The Most Mutinous Leapt Overboard, which she premiered in 1993. Filming on THP began at her studio in 1994.  In 2004 the installation was included in Fade, a major survey of African-American artists living in Los Angeles.  Riua conducts workshops on art as a healing process, and is a poet and storyteller.    
ysaye Ysaye M. Barnwell singer, composer
A member of the esteemed a cappella vocal quintet, Sweet Honey In The Rock, her many compositions recorded by the group include "No Mirrors In My Nana's House" and "Breaths." She also composes larger works for chorus, orchestra, dance and visual media. Ysaye holds a doctorate in Cranio-Facial Studies, and designs programs that merge computer technology and the arts. She uses music to invite healing in her workshop, Building A Vocal Community -- Singing In the African-American Tradition. www.ymbarnwell.com
 
oscar Oscar Brown Jr., singer, composer, playwright (1926-2005)
"The High Priest of Hip," Brown composed and performed over 400 songs, attacking social issues with wit and humor. His classics "Signifyin' Monkey," "Dat Dere," "Brown Baby," and "40 Acres and a Mule" and the musicals Kicks & Co., Opportunity Please Knock and Joy. His daughters join him on his 2001 CD We're Live!and a documentary on his life, Music Is My Mistress, Politics Is My Life, by Donnie Betts, was released in 2005.  
katrina Katrina Browne filmmaker
Browne holds a Masters in Theology, focusing on cultural anthropology and using film to stimulate democratic dialog. She co-founded Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that operated in 21 cities, and served as Outreach Planning Coordinator for the PBS-TV adaptation of Anna Deavere Smith's play Twilight: Los Angeles. Since filming THP in 2004 she completed her first documentary film, Traces Of The Trade: A Story From The Deep North, which explores her family's significant role in the slave trade and the legacy white Americans have inherited slavery. Browne is head of Ebb Pod Productions and Executive Director of the Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery.  www.tracesofthetrade.org.
 
tom Tom Feelings visual artist, illustrator, author (1933-2003)
Feelings spent over 25 years creating the book The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo, comprised of sixty-four narrative paintings. Many of his illustrated books are classics: Jambo Means Hello, Tommy Traveler In The World of Black History, Soul Looks Back In Wonder, Julius Lester's To Be A Slave and Maya Angelou's Now Sheba Sings The Song. Feelings worked with Ghana's newly independent government, and trained artists in Guyana to develop culturally aware children's books.
 
haile Haile Gerima filmmaker
Born in Ethiopia, and working in the U.S. since the mid 60's, Haile has focused his camera on welfare (Bush Mama), Viet Nam (Ashes and Embers), Ethiopian farmers (Harvest:3,000 Years), the U.S. Civil Rights Movement (Wilmington 10 - USA 10,000), the Ethiopian resistance movement (Adwa), and in Sankofa, facing and healing from slavery. Gerima teaches at Howard Univ., and he founded Mypheduh Films to assist African Diaspora filmmakers struggling against economic censorship.  Since filming THP in 2003 Haile completed his  feature film, Teza, on the displacement of African intellectuals in the context of memory.  www.SankofaStore.com and www.Tezathemovie.com
 
Chester Higgins, Jr., photojournalist
Higgins' powerful collection of photos and essays, Feeling The Spirit (1994), synthesizes his travels around the world for 30 years photographing people of color. . A staff photographer with the New York Times since 1975, his books include Black Woman, Drums of Life, Some Time Ago, Elder Grace and Echo of the Spirit: A Photographers Journey. His work is celebrated in the PBS film An American Photographer: Chester Higgins, Jr.   www.ChesterHiggins.com  
nyesha  Shonda Buchanan (aka Nyesha  Khalfan)  performance artist, poet, author
 Nyesha created this film's vocal effects --- water, wind and spirit --- and sings her own composition "If You Knew My Name." Since recording for THP in 1999, Shonda edited the poetry anthology Voices From Leimert Park, which features 50 poets from Los Angeles' famous World Stage Anansi Writers' Workshop (Tsehai Publishers, 2006).  She conducts research on the connections between Black and Native American cultures. Buchanan is a Sundance Fellow and an Assistant Professor of English at Hampton University.  www.ShondaBuchanan.com
 
gil Gil Noble television news producer, filmmaker
 As host of the longest running Black public affairs show in the world --- "Like It Is" on WABC-TV, New York City--- Noble has helped shape the consciousness of both African-Americans and whites on issues of race, nationhood, politics, history and the national psyche. He authored Black Is The Color Of My TV Tube (1981), and has produced and directed numerous documentaries on international Black leaders, including the popular Paul Robeson: Tallest Tree In The Forest and El Hajj Malik El Shabazz  
babatrunde Babatunde Olatunji  master African drummer  (1927- 2003)
Olatunji left Nigeria in 1950 to study political science in the U.S. His first album, Drums of Passion, released in 1959, made African music popular in the U.S. Founder of the Olatunji Center of African Culture in Harlem, he traveled the world teaching West African drum, dance and the Yoruba culture. Other CDs include Planet Drum with drummer Mickey Hart, I, which is used used in this film, and the Grammy nominated Love Drum Talk. His autobiography, The Beat of My Drum, was published posthumously: (Temple Univ. Press, 2005) www.olatunjimusic.com 
abbey Abbey Onikoye  visual artist
A native of Nigeria, Onikoyi came to the U.S. in 1979. He has worked in commercial advertising, taught art at Esalen Institute, and owns Spirits of Africa Gallery.    www.SpiritsofAfricaGallery.com
  
john John Outterbridge sculptor, musician, poet
Outterbridge creates his art from found objects and discarded materials, including some piece of history in each work. His commissioned art is on view in Brazil, South Africa, and throughout the U.S., including Los Angeles' Staples Center and The Getty Museum. Former Director, for 17 years, of the Watts Towers Arts Center in Los Angeles, he is co-creator of its popular Day of the Drum Festival.   Since filming THP in 1999
he was included in Fade, a major survey of African-American artists living in Los Angeles, and participated in a commissioned project utilizing the archives of Belgium and Sweden.
CCH Pounder actress, visual artist
A native of Guyana, Pounder is the film's Voice of the Ancestors. An internationally acclaimed actress (Avatar, Bagdad Cafe, television's "The Shield") , CCH is also a jewelry designer and co-founder of Boribana Museum in Dakar, Senegal and the Kone Gallery in Los Angeles 
Ra6 Ra6     artist
Blending the mediums of woodworking, paint, assemblage and natural fabrics, Ra6 creates wearable art and merges her art with her knowledge of natural healing.  She has exhibited at various California galleries. 
Dadisi Sanyika      drummer, dancer, author     (1948- 2005)
 A metaphysician, martial arts master and African drummer/dancer, for over 40 years Dadisi's work focused on developing cultural consciousness in the Black community.  He was the Director of Studies of the Aquarian Spiritual Center, and in 1994 he founded the Dembrebrah West African Drum and Dance Ensemble.  His published works include  Rites and Rituals of Initiation, West African Drum and Dance, a collection of poetry, Rise of the Midnight Sun, and the metaphysical journal, Seed Thoughts.  
S. Pearl Sharp writer, actress, filmmaker
S. Pearl is the author of Black Women For Beginners, two produced plays, poetry and the poetry w/jazz CD, Higher Ground. Her essays and commentaries have aired on NPR. Other films include the semi-animated short Picking Tribes with artist Carlos Spivey, Life Is A Saxophone on poet Kamau Daa'ood, the health video It's O.K. To Peek, a poetry short Back Inside Herself, and documentaries for the City of Los Angeles including Central Avenue Live! and Fertile Ground. www.aSharpShow.com
yusef Bro. Yusef, the Blues Man musician 
Yusef is a master of the traditional slide guitar. His CD's are Back At The Crossroads Project, Blues By Request, Live and Raw, and In The Momentwww.brotheryusef.com
 
   
With commentary by:
Lola Kemp, kinesiologist and naturopath.

Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood, Founder, the Maafa Commemoration; former Sr. Pastor and Executive Organizer of St. Paul Community Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY.  He is the subject of Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church, by Samuel G. FreedmanIn 1998 Youngblood published a book of poetry honoring his father.  Since filming THP in 2001, he was named one of "the ten most influential" New Yorkers by New Yorker Magazine.  In 2001 he became Sr. Pastor of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York.    www.maafa.com    

Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye, Senegalese historian and Curator of the Maison d'esclaves, Goree Island, Senegal.

Dr. Olivia Cousins, Chair, Health Education Dept., Manhattan Community College, NY; and Steward of the John Mercer Langston (abolitionist) House, Oberlin, Ohio.

Dr. Yosef A. A. ben-Jochanan, historian and author of
Black Man of the Nile and His Family and African Origins of the Major Western Religions, is a former Adjunct Professor, Cornell University. He leads tours to his adopted village in Egypt.  www.africanwithin.com

Angela Briggs, creator of the Spirit Doll, heads Khatiti Wrap Dolls in Los Angeles.
www.khatitifineart.com

Additional music by Leon "Da Lion" Mobley, bassist Nedra Wheeler, Eric "Asha's Baba" Cyrs,
 Munyungo Jackson and Prince Djiabate

Editor: Kate Johnson, EZTV Media.
Assoc. Producers: Erroll Collier, Rosie Lee Hooks
Supv. Director of Photography: Johnny Simmons. Additional filming by Sidharta Pasqual, New York; Papa Matar Ndoye, Senegal; Regina Kimbell, Steven Farrier, Roderick Kwaku Young and Dasal Banks, Los Angeles.

Post-Production Supv: Joy Rencher. Set Photographer: Calvin Hicks. Titles and post-prod graphics: Tim Daniels

Community Sponsor:  Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC)  www.bherc.org