About Freedom Hill
Princeville sits atop swampy land along the Tar River in North Carolina. In the 1800’s this land was disregarded and deemed uninhabitable by white people. After the Civil War, this indifference left it available for freed Africans to settle. Before its incorporation, residents called it ‘Freedom Hill,’ gradually establishing a self-sufficient town. Resting along the floodplain of the river, Princeville residents are no strangers to adversity. The historical town has been inundated with flooding over the centuries. Freedom Hill is a documentary that explores the environmental racism that is washing away the town of 2,000 through the lens of Marquetta Dickens, a Princeville native who recently moved back to help save her hometown and whose grandmother casted the historic vote in 99’ as mayor against the federal and state government’s recommendation to simply move the town elsewhere.
Princeville, a main character itself, is brought to life through several vignettes: see the town organize a car caravan for Irene Jones’ 106th birthday celebration; walk through Helen Heath-Winstead’s abandoned house as she reminisces on family gatherings, holidays and birthday parties in a home that is no more. Freedom Hill uncovers the continuing legacy of racism in the U.S. and how the refusal to reckon with its own history still impacts and extends into the lives and lands of Black Americans today. The documentary uses Princeville, its residents and Marquetta’s journey back home as vehicles to examine what that responsibility, and lack thereof, looks like.