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January 12, 2022

University of South Alabama Professor’s ‘Descendant’ Premieres at 2022 Sundance Film Festival

Photo 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.'

MOBILE, Ala.Jan. 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — University of South Alabama’s Dr. Kern Jackson, Director of African American Studies, will be recognized at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, held from January 20 – 30, for his powerful contributions to Descendant, a film about the 2019 discovery of the last known, illegal slave ship Clotilda and Africatown, a historic community founded by descendants of the vessel and African Americans in Mobile, Alabama. The documentary will premiere on January 22 virtually as part of the US Documentary Competition at Sundance.

“All of our ancestors are helping to reveal this narrative of resilience,” said Dr. Jackson. “It is an honor to be a part of this collaborative process. As a Folklorist, my preoccupation is with the nuances. The nooks and crannies of culture are my inspiration for the historical truths and perspectives brought to this film.”

Descendant places a lens on the harm caused by incremental progress. On the other hand, the Africatown descendants demonstrate how the power of knowing where you come from helps you to survive.

“Knowing your roots is empowering for all of us,” he added. “I am so excited to represent this film and the University at Sundance.”

The discovery of Clotilda is an invitation to discuss our past. The film examines the imbalance of power between the residents of Africatown and power structures that are the legacy of the man who chartered the vessel.

Dr. Jackson is a co-writer and co-producer of the film, directed by award-winning filmmaker Margaret Brown. She, along with executive producers Kyle Martin and Essie Chambers, producers Jeff SkollDiane Weyermann and Kate Hurwitz, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Shawn Gee, and Zarah Zolman from Two One Five Entertainment brought Descendant to life.

“We’re all very proud of Dr. Jackson and his phenomenal work on Descendant,” said Jo Bonner, President of the University of South Alabama. “He’s poured so much into this film, and it’s our hope that his work inspires curiosity and drives us to unearth more lost chapters of African American history.”

Dr. Jackson is a folklorist with an extensive academic career in ethnography, oral history, material culture, and literary folkloristics.

For more information on Descendant and this year’s Sundance Film Festival, please visit

SOURCE University of South Alabama

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