Port Hampton Culture Series
Resilience, Recovery, and Rebirth: Sustaining Hope in Trying Times
Monday, December 5
Meet the director: 6:30 pm
Film screening: 7 pm
Museum members free, non-members $5
The African-American experience, though broad in its scope, is often funneled through the history of American slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. These historical epochs are examined in the documentary Resilience, Recovery, & Rebirth: Finding Hope in Trying Times. Watch the film trailer.
Beginning with the broader story, Horace Scruggs, the film’s producer, interviews historians, story tellers, and local activists to shed light on the national African-American history and ends with the local Fluvanna County experience. Each of these historical periods are punctuated with musical performances by the Scruggs led band Odyssey of Soul. Historical accounts blended with expressive musical performances allows the viewer to gain both the knowledge of these times and the emotional impact it had on the African-American community.
A central focus of the story is the Bremo Slave Chapel built by enslaved labor at the directions of General John H Cocke in 1835. Worship houses, in this case the chapel, played a vital roles in the resilience of enslaved people facing the horrors of chattel slavery. Cocke, being concerned about the religious and moral state of the enslaved peoples, ordered the construction of the chapel to provide them a place of worship and education. His desire to educate and eventually liberate his slaves back to the African continent, was met with a violent pushback by his community members due to the illegality of teaching literacy to the Africans. In the time following the Civil War the chapel was moved and was eventually consecrated as Grace Episcopal Church. In 2021, Scruggs and his musical group, Odyssey of Soul with the support of the Fluvanna Arts Council and the Fluvanna chapter of the NAACP created the film to honor and celebrate those who labored in the building and maintenance of this historic place.
In Fluvanna, local churches organized the African-American Sunday School Union to respond to the community's faith, material, and social needs and were instrumental in establishing Fluvanna's Rosenwald schools. The film also offers insights into the history of education in the region, shares stories and experiences of attendees of the schools, shows the value placed on education in the Black community, and highlights the role of the Black church in providing for the needs of the community.
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About the Filmmaker
Teaching and conducting professionally since 1985, Horace Scruggs is an active musician, conductor, composer, educator and documentary film maker. Mr. Scruggs holds Bachelor’s of Music Education with a concentration in voice from Longwood University, and a Master’s in Music Education with a choral conducting concentration from Shenandoah Conservatory. He also holds a Certificate in Music Production from Berklee College of Music.
Over his 35 years as a music educator Mr. Scruggs’ has had a varied experience. He has taught all grade levels (K-12) and has worked professionally with school, community, and church choirs and ensembles. He has also conducted all-county and all-district choirs throughout Virginia. A multi-instrumentalist and a recording studio owner, he has produced recordings for many local musicians, bands, and choirs.
His educational experience has included teaching 4 levels of choral music, Class Piano, Guitar, and Music Technology at the High School level. Mr. Scruggs has also been an adjunct faculty member at Piedmont Virginia Community College where he conducted the PVCC Chorus, and taught classes in Music Appreciation, and the History of Jazz. A choral composer and arranger Mr. Scruggs’ publications focus on authentic renditions of African – American music. He has also taught classes for the University of Virginia’s Osher Life-Long Institute.
Mr. Scruggs also leads “Odyssey of Soul”, a group a musicians who perform lecture - concerts that provide in-depth presentations on the History of African – American Music and Culture.
Upon retiring from public education in 2020, Mr. Scruggs produced a documentary film on the African - American History of Fluvanna County. This work was featured by the Fluvanna County Arts Council, The 2021 Montpelier Juneteenth Celebration, and 2021 Maupintown Film Festival in Charlottesville Virginia. He is currently working on two other films for the Virginia Department of Humanities which focus on the social, cultural, and economic impact of American Slavery on central Virginia which is the land of his ancestors. Making quick study of the art of documentary film production, Mr. Scruggs’ use of both traditional and drone cameras provides scenes that are personal and impactful. He also uses his cameras, both still and moving, to support the historical efforts of other local organizations including the Fluvanna Historical Society, The Fluvanna NAACP and One Shared Story.
Mr. Scruggs lives in Palmyra Virginia with his wife Theresa.
Hampton History Museum
The Hampton History Museum is located at 120 Old Hampton Lane in Downtown Hampton. There is free parking in the garage across the street from the museum. For more information call 757-727-1102.
Image: Union Baptist Church, Fluvanna County, Virginia. Courtesy of the filmmaker