On a small patch of grass on Cleveland Avenue in downtown Ithaca, nestled between the historic St. James AME Zion Church and a private residence, lies a monument memorializing the 26 black residents of Tompkins County who volunteered to fight for the Union during the American Civil War. This little-known piece of Ithaca history is brought to light in “Civil Warriors,” a locally made film with strong connections to Ithaca College.
Making “Civil Warriors” was a true community effort. Based on a play by Ithaca playwright and historian Carol Kammen, the film was produced by PhotoSynthesis Productions, a local film studio and media production company. Sean Eversley Bradwell, director of IC’s Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Change (IDEAS), narrates the film. Several IC students worked on the production as research assistants or interns, and the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, led by IC associate professor Baruch Whitehead, contributed to the soundtrack. Alumnus David Huntley ’88 served as cinematographer, and Paula Younger, the college’s executive director for government and community relations, helped promote the film in the local community and beyond.
“People talk about a labor of love; this was a labor of commitment,” said Eversley Bradwell. “Commitment to the community in telling this story. I’m very impressed with the resilience and long-term dedication to making sure that this story gets told.”