I am conducting a crowdfunding campaign* so that I can get a story I've been working on for almost two years distributed to a national audience. The name of the story is Finding Rebecca.
Given our continuing racial tensions across the country, I believe this is an important story for a national audience. In order to help you decide whether to support this project, here is a synopsis of the Finding Rebecca story:
In 1962, weeks after adopting a girl they named Rebecca, my parents discovered their infant girl was half-black. They then faced a difficult choice: raise a black child in an all-white community or return their much-anticipated first daughter to social services.
The backdrop of my parents' decision was the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, dubbed “The Little Rock of the North” by the national news media for its 1959 condemnation of an integrated housing development. My parents were members of the Deerfield Human Rights Commission and part of the minority of citizens who favored integrating the community. Some members of this early civil rights organization had actually received death threats and had crosses burned on their front lawns for supporting integration.
In order to protect his family and two older children, as well as Rebecca herself, from certain harassment, my dad insisted that Rebecca be returned to social services. My mother, an early civil rights advocate who marched in Selma, strongly disagreed. This decision had far-reaching repercussions.
My mother wrote in her journal in 1991--some thirty years after her own private Sophie’s Choice--that she prayed Rebecca subsequently went to a good home and was loved. Recently, I discovered the answer to my mother's prayers.
Moved by the senseless deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland, I began to wonder how Rebecca’s life turned out. How was it different than my own? What discrimination and indignities might she have suffered as a result of being black? Had she been pulled over for 'driving while black' and suffered at the hands of rogue police ? Had she even survived, and if so what was her life like?
With only a faded snapshot and approximate birth date to go by, I followed my investigative instincts to my origins in the Chicago area in search of answers. Last October I found Rebecca, along with the answers to my mother's prayers.
Finding Rebecca follows the historic arc of the civil rights movement through to the uncertainties of the present day. It is peppered with larger-than-life characters, uncanny coincidences, and the sturm und drang of a corrupt city and corrupt adoption system. It harkens back to the social protests of the 60's, and the crack epidemic of the 80's, while exploring themes of race, adoption, homelessness, drug addiction, abandonment, and social stratification.
The story also follows my own emotional roller coaster as I search for clues to Rebecca’s whereabouts, while being ostracized by my family for pulling back the curtain on a well-kept secret. Finally, Finding Rebecca explores what happens post-reunion between me and Rebecca, now renamed Angelle, as we help each other explore, illuminate and solve each other’s identity puzzles, and learn how to relate to each other’s disparate worlds.
Finding Rebecca is a spiritual as well as a political, cultural, and emotional story touching on core human values. It is about the sometimes difficult choices we make and the moral and ethical consequences of those choices. It is a story that is emblematic of the pressing issues that our nation is facing today, and suggestive of how the racial divide might be bridged.
I hope you believe, as I do, that Finding Rebecca has the potential to address a universal need for tolerance and healing. Your contribution will help spread the message of tolerance and healing, allowing us to 'be the change we wish to see in the world'.
Thank you in advance for reading this far, contributing whatever amount feels comfortable to you, and for sharing this request with others on your social media platforms and/or through email and word of mouth.
Please spread the message!
*The funds raised will be used to create a project roadmap and timeline, a digital and printed media kit, a professional website, and hire a well-respected Chicago publicist. She will introduce the story proposal to her network of contacts, including numerous documentary, feature film, public radio, and television producers.