In 2019, while documenting the archaeological work of Fever River Research and the City of Springfield at the Race Riot site in Springfield, Illinois, Devin Hunter in the Department of History at the University of Illinois Springfield approached us about creating something unique and memorable. Devin connected us with Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese and his powerful poem.
The video Face To Face shows Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese performing his poem on location at the archaeological site of a row of houses burned in the race riot that took place August 14 to 16 in 1908.
“I am thankful to have been part of a project that unashamedly shed more light on the Springfield, IL Race Pogrom of 1908 and its aftermath, especially calling attention to the trans-generational racial trauma most African Americans grapple with every day.”— Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese
On Saturday, November 21, The Storyteller Studios Producer, Chris Costello, was awarded a 2020 Mid-America Emmy Award during a virtual ceremony. Face To Face was recognized in the Short Format Non-Broadcast category against five other entries.
“It is an incredible honor to have our work recognized at this level, but it is more so to receive recognition for a project that has such historical significance not just here in Springfield but across the entire country. It is tragic to hear Dr. Wesley Robinson McNeese’s words spoken from inside the remains of black-owned homes that were burned in the 1908 Race Riots and come to the harsh realization that, even though decades span these two events, the pain and fear felt by those families in 1908 is still felt in similar ways by black Americans today.”— Chris Costello, Producer, The Storyteller Studios
Face To Face was produced through the University of Illinois and funded by the University of Illinois Presidential Initiative To Celebrate The Impact Of The Arts & Humanities and created as a part of The Humanities Innovating New Knowledge (T.H.I.N.K.) Project.
“All possible credit is due to Wes, and his remarkable poem. The entire project started with his powerful words, and I am proud that this honor may bring more attention to this amazing work.”— Devin Hunter, Assistant Professor of History, UIS
“Dr. Robinson-McNeese’s poem is remarkable. Our mission at Storyteller is to connect people, to serve the stories of others with reverence. We are grateful to Devin Hunter, the University of Illinois, our friends at Fever River Research, the City of Springfield, and, of course, Dr. Robinson-McNeese himself. It is their trust in us that made it possible. We are humbled by our peers in the industry for affirming our mission in this way. It means a lot. I am personally very proud of Chris Costello, who poured his heart into this project. His talent, humility, and commitment to serving this story is certainly worthy of this recognition.”— Josh Hester, Principal & Executive Producer, The Storyteller Studios
Watch the powerful film here: