RTF professor Ya’Ke Smith displays on Juneteenth, anniversary of his documentary concerning the vacation

“Juneteenth: Religion & Freedom,” directed by Radio-Tv-Movie professor Ya’Ke Smith, was launched final June to assist viewers perceive the story of Juneteenth.

In June 2021, Smith wrote about Juneteenth in a pamphlet for the devotion article publication Voices, a subsidiary of Our Every day Bread, shortly after President Joe Biden signed a legislation making Juneteenth a federal vacation. After the article was printed, Smith mentioned Our Every day Bread approached him eager to create a Juneteenth documentary. A collaboration started between Smith and Rasool Berry, the producer and face of the documentary. 

Smith mentioned he was instantly struck by the concept of making a documentary centered round Juneteenth, because it had at all times been an integral a part of his life.

“My household’s from Texas and we’ve at all times celebrated Juneteenth,” Smith mentioned. “We’d have household reunions centered round Juneteenth, there have been Juneteenth parades. There was at all times a way that Juneteenth was a really, crucial day for us as Black individuals in Texas. So when he requested me to do it, I used to be like, ‘After all’ as a result of I perceive it very intimately. And I need to be part of the legacy and historical past of Juneteenth.”

With Juneteenth now a federal vacation, Smith mentioned there’s an assumption everybody is aware of the vacation’s objective, however there’s truly a substantial training hole on the topic.

Layton Fields, a communication and management sophomore, mentioned she took it upon herself to be taught concerning the vacation and that the documentary was eye-opening.

“The principle factor I realized was after they have been speaking about how there have been slave Bibles, and it blacked out like all the components (that) would assume that there have been individuals of different cultures within the Bible, and mainly made it so the white individuals have been the saviors,” Fields mentioned.

Since Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of all enslaved individuals after the previous few in Texas realized of their freedom, Sharon Obinna, a speech, language, and listening to sciences sophomore, mentioned the tutorial hole could also be region-based.

“I really feel like numerous Black Individuals … learn about Juneteenth, after which possibly after they go away Texas, they realized that it’s probably not a giant deal in different areas,” Obinna mentioned.

Smith’s documentary was shot in about six days, and manufacturing took about six months. Smith mentioned the group would generally commute from Houston to Dallas in in the future for back-to-back interviews, which was very difficult. However the post-production course of was much more grueling since Smith needed to repeatedly hear the traumatic narratives.

Regardless of the arduous course of, Smith mentioned his targets for the movie have been met, and he continues to speak about Juneteenth and taking part in celebrations.

“I believe that there’s at all times been a spirit of celebration across the Juneteenth vacation. And there’s at all times been an understanding that we should proceed to speak about this historical past,” Smith mentioned. “We should proceed to inform our youngsters about this historical past. And we should proceed to know that this historical past once more, it’s not simply necessary, however it’s a roadmap for the methods through which we will proceed combating now.”