As outsiders chronicled the rich cultural legacy and historic preservation efforts in the Joppa neighborhood of southern Dallas, the residents who live in the community felt like they needed to tell their own story.
So community advocates commissioned documentary filmmaker Curshion Jones for a project celebrating last year’s 150th anniversary of one of the few preserved freedman’s towns in North Texas. Created in conjunction with the South Central Civic League, 150 Years of Resiliency: A Joppa Documentary will have its first public screening this weekend as part of the Denton Black Film Festival.
“There’s been a lot of news coverage. They wanted to tell it from their point of view,” Jones said. “There was no history in terms of tangible things other than just hearing the stories.”
Joppa — which is pronounced and was originally spelled Joppee — was one of more than 30 freedman’s communities formed in North Texas in the decade following the abolition of slavery. Situated between Interstate 45 and the Great Trinity Forest, with railroad tracks on one side and the Trinity River on the other, the neighborhood is known for its “shotgun houses” that date back generations. The land was annexed by the city of Dallas in 1955. Today, there are about 300 homes and a population of less than 1,000.