“History is not just what we choose to retell. History is also what we choose to recover."

    ~Sean Eversley Bradwell

  • Trailer

    “Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them." ~Aristotle


    “Once let a man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States”.

    - Frederick Douglass


    CIVIL WARRIORS is a feature film about the experiences of two black families from upstate New York -- fathers and sons who enlisted in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) and fought in the American Civil War. Their compelling true story unfolds through a unique interweaving of historical images with the rhythm and energy of spoken word performance. Contemporary narration guides us and provides historical context as the story unfolds.


    The men in CIVIL WARRIORS stood up to fight for freedoms they barely had. They stood up to be counted as men in a country that called them "boy." They fought and died, but their stories go largely untold. The film is not only about individual men, but also about all of the soldiers who fought in the USCT; it is a history of black people as active agents in their own struggle -- as subjects, not objects of the Civil War. Their stories need to be told, not only in order to reclaim their rightful place in the shared history of our nation, but also to remind us that we need to participate and remain vigilant in the ongoing struggle for racial justice in our society.


    CIVIL WARRIORS is also a teaching tool; it is the centerpiece of a comprehensive, metacognition-rich educational curriculum designed to meet the standards and goals of the C3 Framework of Social Studies. The curriculum provides structure and guidance for students to learn about the historical facts that are brought to life in the film. Perhaps more importantly, it enables metacognitive exploration of HOW to think about those facts within the context of historical and contemporary social justice movements.

  • Civil Warriors Class Curriculum for Educators

    “While I acknowledge history’s ‘fiction of factual representation’, to use Hayden White’s term, I also recognize the political utility and ethical necessity of historical fiction.” ~Saidiya Hartman

    U.S. Colored Troops medal, 1864, Agnes Kane Callum Collection, Maryland State Archives (MSA SC 1090)

    Social Studies classrooms, American history classrooms in particular, directly influence and shape the context in which young people in the United States perceive contemporary society. The opportunity that exists in those spaces to transfer knowledge and skills into civic action is huge. This is the end goal articulated by the new C3 Framework for Social Studies. The CIVIL WARRIORS curriculum takes the approach that we study history in order to fortify our moral energy for the present, to reflexively turn the gaze upon ourselves and what we can do to advance movements for social justice. If we understand how to think about the past, we can understand how to think about the present.


    Curriculum Goals:


    • To inspire students with the power of storytelling and recovered history. We want students to understand how the content of the film fits in with their understanding of the Civil War. We also want students to learn to think critically about historical sourcing, and to understand sourcing in a metacognitive way such that they can apply it to any investigation, learning, or research. The CIVIL WARRIORS curriculum offers questions and exercises that are specific and metacognitive, personal and political, fitting a variety of students and classrooms. 


    • A second goal revolves around social justice, examining the silences on the historical record around black soldiers who fought in the Civil War in order to question how people become marginalized by the telling of history--both in the past and the present. Beyond discussions about power, the long history of civil rights, and social justice, the content raises conceptual and thematic discussions around memory, storytelling, war memorializing, agency, passion around a cause, and the legacy of slavery in the United States. To meet this goal, the CIVIL WARRIORS curriculum incorporates discussion of primary source material, current events journalism, and literary & academic writing.


    • Finally, the CIVIL WARRIORS curriculum builds these texts, questions, and ideas into discussions and activities designed around the inquiry-based skills that shape the C3 framework. Ultimately, we hope the film inspires students to delve into primary sources and archival research, challenging them to find new ways of reporting on the past and the present by creating literary and historical narratives about untold stories from their own communities.


    "It landed in my classroom with an immediacy that felt electric. . . It blew my students away."

    "It will provide those who view it, whether in the classroom or the theater, with a structure within which to talk about race and history and, indeed, the ways history is shaped by those whose stories are told."

  • Team


    Deborah C. Hoard

    Producer, Director

    Deborah C. Hoard has been a producer, director and writer at PhotoSynthesis Productions in Ithaca, NY for 30 years, and president since 2003. Her work is focused on education and social justice and has won more than 200 national and international media awards. Her documentary They Call It Myanmar screened in festivals worldwide, and was named “one of the top 12 docs of the year 2012” by Roger Ebert, and she is about to release RE:Thinking, a new film about education in America and the need to teach students HOW to think instead of WHAT to think.

    Che Broadnax

    Producer, Director, Editor

    Che Broadnax is a Brooklyn-based filmmaking multi-tool with deep ties to PhotoSynthesis Productions. He has been found behind the lens of indie features and shorts, in the edit suite for major networks, and hunched over the drafting table illustrating and writing independent sequential art. His passion for storytelling, social justice, and music fueled two hip hop albums and runs through the heart of CIVIL WARRIORS. (imdb) (portfolio)


    Ben Porter Lewis


    David Huntley


    Kent Goetz

    Set Designer

    Sean Eversley Bradwell

    Narrator, Consultant

    Bronwen Exter

    Curriculum Author

    Norm Scott

    Sound Design


    LeVan D. Hawkins

    Rev. Zachariah Tyler

    Ian Ward

    John Tyler

    Patrick Rameau

    Edward Sorrell

    Jacque Tara Washington

    Sydney Sorrell

    Gabriel Peoples

    John Sorrell

    Jonathan Flanigan

    Col. Silliman

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