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Alice B. Russell Micheaux Headstone

$1,980 of $1,750 goal

Raised by 49 people in 5 months
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Alice B. Russell Micheaux was a pioneering film actress and film producer, as well as the widow of Oscar Micheaux, renowned African American filmmaker, and both were active during the silent era through the 1940s.  Amazing! Yet unfortunately, Mrs. Micheaux spent her final years as a ward of the state suffering from dementia, and was buried in 1985 in an unmarked pauper’s grave at the Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye, New York.  Our cover image shows purple flowers   marking the spot where a stone marker will be as weather permits. The image below shows Mrs. Micheaux's burial plot circled in red.


Let's place a headstone at Alice’s currently unmarked grave. Women's contributions to film have been undervalued too often and while the full scope of Mrs. Micheaux's role as her husband's collaborator may never be fully recovered from an imperfect archive, we can honor what we do know now.

Alice Micheaux performed in The Broken Violin (1927), and in Oscar's films including Murder in Harlem (1935), God's Step Children  (1938) and The Betrayal (1948).  Alice collaborated with her husband as script supervisor and casting associate on Lying Lips (1939) and miscellaneous crew on Swing! (1938), Murder in Harlem (1935), Ten Minutes to Live (1932) and The Girl from Chicago (1932).  




An intriguing 1948 letter Alice Micheaux wrote to her sister Ethel describes "help" she provided to Oscar when she accompanied him to Chicago to work on a "big picture."  And it also intimates the sheer multiplicity and relentlessness of the creative, domestic, technical, and business tasks she contributed to her husband as he suffered from arthritis "all over his body,"  which left his hands "slightly swollen." Her labor encompassed personal caretaking for the "restless" director as well as performing, casting, working on the crew, and script advising--work she did under the name A. Burton Russell. 

Knowing her story we cannot rest until our sister in cinema, Alice, our ancestor, is at rest too, honored with a proper headstone and ceremony to recognize her life and status as a pioneering woman of African American cinema.




We are raising $1750 to commission a headstone from DeNigris Monuments and hold a dedication ceremony at Mrs. Micheaux's grave site. The amount of $1430 includes the cost of the stone, engraving, installation, and cemetery fees. We plan to purchase flowers and hire musicians for the dedication ceremony.  GoFundMe costs 7.9% plus $0.30 per donation for the platform and payment processing.

Administrative responsibilites for this campaign will be shared among the Alice Micheaux Headstone Committee, which consists of Terri Francis film scholar, Brian Graney film archivist, and Lina Accurso, custodian of Alice's grave (who alerted us to this situation). We will make sure that funds go to DeNigris and we will plan a proper memorial for Mrs. Micheaux to which all are invited. 

The dedication will take place April 11, 2018 at 11AM in Rye, New York before the evening program of the Orphans Film Symposium whose theme this year is LOVE. We hope you can join us in Rye. We'll update you as plans come together. The alternate date we can use in case the ground is too hard for pouring the foundation and setting the stone will be June 30, 2018, Alice Micheaux's birthday.
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And the greatest of these is love.

April 11, 2018
Photos from Mrs. Micheaux's tribute.
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Hello! Our tribute to Mrs. Micheaux takes place tomorrow morning at 11. Things seem to be in place. But of course it'll be a little hectic as everyone arrives at the cemetery and we put things into place.

Just checking in with you on how I'm spending the donations.

$1980 donated
-1430 (cost of the stone)
-350 vocalist
-150 floral arrangements
-50 digital photo on foam board and easel for display at the graveside

and that's it! Money done.

I will post many pictures of the day tomorrow so that we can share the day.

We think it's unlikely that Mrs. Micheaux had much of a funeral when she was buried in 1985. In a sense we are performing another burial for her, and we enter into that important, intimate service with reverence and also a sense of celebration. I'm happy for the eclectic, generous community drawn to Mrs. Micheaux and her story. I'm pleased by our success in raising funds for the stone and small visitation ceremony. I'm delighted by all the acts of patience and kindness that helped us reach our goal.

A lot of us who contributed to this effort are writers, filmmakers, historians, teachers, archivists, and poets, especially poets, you know, we're the ones tasked to remember and re-member any of our scattered kin and gather up what they might have left behind. We tend to the relict, the impression left in the wake of their passing. If the movie is unseen, we watch and watch over it. If someone is forgotten, we reach back across time and collect them. Such is our living, breathing central purpose. Especially for a misrepresented people.

I think it's wonderful that over the last few months we worked together to create tomorrow's lovely tribute.

We carefully walked back across time to perform this one dignifying act that everyone deserves: to be remembered. We'll have music by Jasmine Muhammad, floral arrangement by Green Willow, and the company of friends and colleagues. Rev. Martha Cruz will offer an invocation and those who wish to say a word can do so.

I wish we could all be there but I'm sure you'll be there in spirit. Thank you so much for donating to this special effort.

Truly,

Terri
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Hi Everyone,

Setting about last minute arrangements with loving and expert assistance and creativity from Regina Longo, Jean-Philippe Voiron, and Lisa Collins. Stopped by the cemetery yesterday. Stunned by the blank space next to Mr. Hansen where our stone will be placed once the weather makes it possible. Ordered flowers. Ordered a photo for display at the grave site. Picking that up in the morning. Hoping to print up a mock of the stone for display. We have an order of service. Documentation is set. Thinking thinking thinking what else is there to do?

More soon.

Terri
Mrs. Micheaux's unmarked place to left.
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Hello Everyone,

De Nigris Inc. sent us the proof for Alice B. Russell Micheaux's marker this morning. Lina, as the custodian of the grave site, selected the stone and wrote the epitaph.

Thanks to all of you for your support.

Join us April 11, 2018 at 11AM at Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye, NY for a meaningful remembrance of Mrs. Micheaux's life and her vital contributions to early African American cinema as a producer, actress, script supervisor, and spouse to Oscar Micheaux.

Sincerely,

Terri
Proof
Abide with Me, perf. Thelonious Monk
Credit Sequence, Girl From Chicago, 1932
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$1,980 of $1,750 goal

Raised by 49 people in 5 months
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