Monday, November 23, 2020

UIS History professor, two alumni part of an Emmy Award-winning film shot at the site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riots

“Face to Face,” a short film featuring Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese reading a powerful poem he wrote from inside the remains of black-owned homes that were burned in the 1908 Springfield Race Riots was honored with an Emmy in the Short Format Program category during the virtual 2020 Mid-America Emmy Award on Saturday. 

University of Illinois Springfield Assistant Professor of History Devin Hunter approached The Storyteller Studios with the idea of creating the short film, while they were documenting the archaeological work at the Race Riot site. Hunter connected Storyteller with Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese and his powerful poem. 

The Emmy was awarded to The Storyteller Studios’ Chris Costello, who served as director, cinematographer and editor, and to Josh Hester, who serves Storyteller as executive producer. Costello earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from UIS in 2015 and Hester earned a master’s degree in communication from UIS in 2009. 

Hunter said, he hoped the film and the poem would help anyone that watches it focus on the victims of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, and especially to its lasting impact on the community and the work that needs to be done towards racial justice and equality today. 

“All possible credit is due to Wes, and his remarkable poem,” Hunter said. “The entire project started with his powerful words, and I'm proud that this honor may bring more attention to this amazing work.”  

The Emmy award-winning video was produced through the University of Illinois and funded by the University of Illinois Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts & Humanities and created as a part of The Humanities Innovating New Knowledge (T.H.I.N.K.) Project. 

You can watch the film at

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