The Other Madisons is a remarkable contribution to American history documenting the process by which an oral tradition preserves, with exquisite fidelity, an important social record, in spite of, or perhaps in response to, suppression or neglect by discrimination and racism.

In this documentary film, Bettye Kearse documents her ancestry to Mandy, the first African woman enslave in American soil who became the property of James Madison's state in Montpelier, Virginia. Ms. Kearse's experience with research and cultural institutions and her visits to sites in Ghana, Portugal, Virginia, and Texas provided the contextual background needed to complete her genealogical journey. The family mantra: "We descend from slaves and a president of the United States" had finally achieved a new level, that of documentary experience. 

In the process of making "The Other Madisons", the filmmaker relied heavily on the homonymous book by Ms. Betty Kearse and her own testimony at length, while also reaching out to the experts who had previous research the enslaved community at Montpelier, the plantation once owned by the 4th president of the United States: Matthew Reeves, archeologist; Lynn Rainville, historian; Cristian Cotz, historian and Elizabeth Chew, Chief Curator at James Madison's Montpelier. "The Other Madisons" is currently in production, and it's expected to be released to the general audience and academic libraries in February 2021. HD|30 min. produced by Soledad LIENDO written and directed by Eduardo MONTES-BRADLEY.

LEFT: Elizabeth (Betsey) Madison, born into slavery, was Bettye Kearse’s great-great-grandmother. RIGHT: Mack Madison, Kearse’s great-grandfather and the son of Betsey and Emanuel Madison. (Courtesy of Bettye Kearse)

© 2020 | Heritage Film Project