Detroit and Windsor’s Underground Railroad History at Center of "Greatest Freedom Show on Earth" Film’s Kickstarter Campaign

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Never-seen-before treasure trove of audio and pictures were found preserved in Windsor, Ontario basement and used in documentary film by Orphan Boy Films.

Bob Huggins, Martha Reeves and Preston Chase (Walter Perry's great nephew)

The word ‘Emancipation’ alone evokes for me the music and unbelievable moves by the Black American college bands during the parade down Ouellette Street.

A Kickstarter campaign is launching to ensure Windsor and Detroit’s role in the Underground Railroad is told. Black faith, community and music take center stage in the Greatest Freedom Show on Earth, an independent documentary film about the emancipation celebrations organized by Walter Perry in Windsor, Ontario between 1936 and 1968. The Kickstarter campaign runs until November 23.

The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth documentary is in production with never-seen-before audio and pictures found preserved in a basement in Windsor, and original content produced by Juno Award winner Anthony Seck. Footage includes a recent interview with singer Martha Reeves and pictures and audio of Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, the Ink Spots, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and more historical figures from the Black Community.

“It has been an incredible and humbling two-year odyssey to produce and direct this film,” says Bob Huggins, Orphan Boy Film’s CEO. “Given the economic times there is no greater spotlight on any community than there is on Detroit and Windsor. This documentary is a call to the citizens of both countries to remember the importance of their roots and the role that the strength of community played in creating the world we live in today.”

“One of the most commonly talked about events when I return home to Windsor, Ontario is still the Emancipation Day celebration,” says Preston Chase, the film’s co-producer and Walter Perry’s great nephew. “The word ‘Emancipation’ alone evokes for me the music and unbelievable moves by the Black American college bands during the parade down Ouellette Street; the variety of faces from both sides of the border; the smell of barbecued meats and soul food blotting out every other odour in Jackson Park. But it is only when I sit down with the older generations and hear their stories of Emancipation Day Celebration during the first weekend of August, I realise that my associations only scratch the surface of this complex story.”

Follow the campaign progress on Kickstarter, the film’s website, Facebook and Twitter.

This independent film is in support of three organizations: the North American Black Historical Museum (Amherstburg, Ontario), the Northstar Cultural Community Centre (Windsor, Ontario), and Charles Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, Michigan).

About Orphan Boy Films
Orphan Boy Films was created in 2006 to bring history to life on film. Orphan Boy Films, builds on the legacy of the Internet pioneer R.J (Bob) Huggins, whose technological advance of publishing historical newspaper images, made searchable on the Internet in 1999, has changed how academics and amateur historians conduct research throughout the world. The Orphan Boy name is homage to his father, James who was a British orphan from the Barnardo Orphanages, sent to Canada as a twelve year old to work in the farms of South Western Ontario.

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Heather Badenoch
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