Nearly 165 years ago, Washtenaw County served as one of the last stops before freedom for those traveling the Underground Railroad to Canada.
Ypsilanti. Detroit. Windsor. A hop, skip and a jump.
The difference between slavery and freedom.
In “All or Nothin,’” director Charles Campbell dramatically retells the story of one group who trekked the path through Washtenaw County.
The film is based on “The Escape of the 28,” a story by Betty Ann Smiddy and Diana Porter. This is Campbell’s first feature-length film.
Deborah Meadows, a friend of the director who acts as a Underground Railroad docent for the African American Cultural and Historical Museum, first introduced the director to the pamphlet-length story when he was attending Central Michigan University.
“I was given a story to read, just an Underground Railroad escape story. I’m not too big on those stories; they just don’t settle right with me. But I read it, and I was so fascinated that a light bulb went off,” Campbell said.
Filmed over the course of 11 days, in four states, with a crew of nearly 100 people, the film brings together education and drama.
Campbell and crew worked to maintain accuracy by traveling the path believed to have been taken by the escaping group and utilizing original locations to which the descendants of the abolitionists from 1853 granted access.
In the film, twenty-eight slaves, with the help of abolitionists, traveled from Kentucky along the Underground Railroad. The group was pursued by men seeking rewards, but made their way through Indiana, Ohio and Michigan before successfully reaching the safety of Windsor’s shores.
The film is scheduled to be screened at Towsley Auditorium on Feb. 2, at 6:45 p.m. WCC is sponsoring the event on behalf of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the African American Cultural & Historical Museum, as a fundraiser to assist in the final renovations of the museum.
The event is free, although a recommended donation of $10 is encouraged.