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Denise Ward-Brown

Documentary filmmaker and professor Denise Ward-Brown directs and produces films that reframe moments in history from an African American point of view in order to ensure that the narrative in the American historical record and public memory is infused with multiple voices and perspectives.

For the last three years, Ward-Brown has been collaborating with Joanna Dee Das, associate professor of dance at Washington University in St. Louis, to create a jazz dance tribute to world-famous dancer Josephine Baker, whose talent ushered in the jazz age of the 1920s. Her current project, “Josephine’s World,” will be the fourth full-length documentary film that she has produced and directed.

“Never Been a Time” (2017) recounts the events, updates, and reframes the language of the 1917 East St. Louis massacre/pogrom of African Americans. Ward-Brown received numerous production-grants for her award-winning documentary “Jim Crow to Barack Obama” (2014) that features intergenerational conversations about the Jim Crow era between African American youth and elders over 75 years old. A Missouri Humanities Grant helped to fund “Home Going,” which honors the rich traditions of the African American church with interviews and traditional funerary music selections.

As an art-activist/educator, in the wake of the killing death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the subsequent uprising in St. Louis, Ward-Brown received WashU grants to design and fund two-video courses: “Tale of Two Cities: Documenting Our Divides,” which allows students to film nonprofit civic organizations in St. Louis, and “Filming the Black Freedom Struggle in St. Louis,” that allows students to explore film/video as a tool in historiography

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Work by Denise Ward-Brown