Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Tomlinson Hill: Take One

I recently had the opportunity to check out Tomlinson Hill (2013), a fascinating, consciousness-raising documentary directed by Lisa Kaselak that will be suitably complimented by Chris Tomlinson's book of the same name when it's published in July (2014).

From the Tomlinson Hill website, which succinctly sets things up:

'Marlin, Texas is a small community about 28 miles east of Waco, in Central Texas. Marlin's history began, long ago, as a central point of commerce to service the slave plantations that existed along the Brazos River Valley. One of those plantations was Tomlinson Hill, and that's how we came by our story. . . Chris Tomlinson, the last white descendant of the Tomlinson Hill plantation, and Loreane Tomlinson, one of the black descendants, both had the idea to come back to Marlin at the same time - independently of each other. They met, connected, and began to share their stories.'
Early in the film, Chris Tomlinson, a veteran war correspondent, observes:

". . . I don't think we've really come to terms. . . particularly in my generation and younger -- we're becoming so distant from the realities of pre-Civil Rights America . . . We need to bear witness . . ." 
Dr. Fred L. McGhee, a maritime archaeologist and historical anthropologist who is more generally identified on film as "historian," makes a number of good points, and here's one: ". . . you're talking about unpacking generations of historical baggage, of the accumulated weight of a bunch of things, and it has both individual and institutional aspects."

Another of the many interesting aspects of Marlin is that there are more than forty different (mostly Protestant) churches, quite an abundance for a small city. What role do they play now and how did they interact historically? More on this and other facets of Tomlinson Hill in a coming post. This is a compelling documentary well-suited for exploration, discussion and other forms of thoughtful engagement. Can you dig?

Today's Rune: Gateway.


Chris said...

Thank you Erik, this is very kind. I hope you enjoy the book. We'll have book signings in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, some fascinating social experience there. Would be cool to listen in on some of those convos. Perhaps the book will be sufficient.

the walking man said...

A little Texas burgh with that many churches? Lord time to take a freight train out of there.

Seriously I never did get the problem of having dark skinned kin folk. I'm odd man out when with their tribes as they are with mine, merging the two is a conscious act of revolution against the norm.

Erik Donald France said...

Thank you all for the comments, and best of luck, Chris !