Struggles In The Shadows : Philadelphia's Free African Youth

Producer of the Work / Filmmaker: 

Produced by Scribe Video Center, in conjunction with WGBH's documentary series "Africans in America,"

Filmmaker Facilitator: 

H├ębert Peck Jr. and Roxana Walker-Canton

Year released: 
29 minutes

$79 fr Community Institutions: Libraries, School, Non-Profits / $99 for Universities & Businesses

Buy this Video: 

To purchase a DVD please call 215 222 4201 or email

What is history and who makes it? Developed under the auspices of the Philadelphia Youth Initiative as part of an eight-city educational project inspired by the PBS series, "Africans in American," the production of Struggles in the Shadows was guided by Scribe Video Center, WHYY TV 12, and Temple University's Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection.

The documentary, which was researched, scripted and produced by five Philadelphia teenagers, follows the young videomakers in their exploration of the lives of the African-American community in Philadelphia in the early1800's and the education of the free African youth in particular. Their documentary uses the students' present realities as a springboard for relating the history of free African youth in Philadelphia prior to 1863. Archival manuscripts, artifacts, photographs, drawings, and footage of historic sites, including Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church and Washington Square Park, are combined with student interviews, scholars' comments, and talks with tour guides. It takes on the questions of how history is recorded and taught, and the consequence of historical exclusion.

Filmmaker's Name: 
Project For Youth
Filmmaker's Bio: 

Teens participating in the 1998 Documentary History Project for Youth were: Michael Barron (a freshman at Girard Academic Music Program), Kyle Devero (then a Roxborough High School graduate and Temple University attendee), Bonnie Friel (then a Masterman School graduate and Sarah Lawrence attendee), Lizandra Ocasio (then a student at Masterman School) and Michelle Theorgood (then a High School for Creative and Performing Arts sophmore).


October 2005 - Listed on Upcoming Events page, Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Public Screenings, Broadcasts and Festivals: 

October 20, 1998 - Broadcast on WHYY-TV 12, a PBS affiliate (Philadelphia, PA)
May 7, 1999 - Street Movies screening, part of 1999 Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema, held at Playground of William Penn High School (Philadelphia, PA)
March 25, 2000 - Youth Media Jam II at Prince Music Theater (Philadelphia, PA)