Crafting Freedom Materials Project

The Crafting Freedom Materials Project (, funded by NEH, is dedicated to exposing 3rd-8th grade students to high-quality, scholarship-based educational materials on the African American experience during the Antebellum period. In this project, a team of scholars, teachers, and lesson plan developers and designers created teacher-friendly lesson plans, complete with Teacher Tools, Student Handouts, slide shows, and short videos featuring actors portraying each of the ten nineteenth-century African Americans. All of these materials are available to teachers nationwide and worldwide via an easily-navigable website. The life stories and works of art and literature of these ten individuals engage students and teach critical history and language arts as well as other humanities standards. Moreover, these nineteenth-century African Americans provide exceptional role models. The Crafting Freedom website was launched in the summer of 2010.

Documentary Film: “The Thin Edge of Freedom: Thomas Day and the Free Black Experience, 1800-ca. 1861” (In Development)

The Thin Edge of Freedom: Thomas Day and the Free Black Experience is a 90-minute documentary film, targeted to PBS, on the life and times of Thomas Day. The film’s creator and executive producer is Laurel C. Sneed, Director of the Crafting Freedom Institute. The film project received a major Media-Makers Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the development of a script. The scriptwriter is multiple-award winning documentary producer and writer, Stephen Stept. He has been a principal of three major television projects funded by NEH: Henry Luce and Time-Life’s America: A Vision of Empire, which he produced, wrote and directed for PBS’s American Masters series; Darrow, a feature-length dramatic biography of Clarence Darrow which Stept conceived, co-produced and co-wrote for PBS’s American Playhouse. Stept’s most recent projects include: “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War” for MSNBC’s       Rachel Maddow Show; writer, “August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand” for American Master’s/WQED Multimedia. The Crafting Freedom Institute continues to seek funding to complete production of “The Thin Edge of Freedom: Thomas Day and the Free Black Experience, 1800-ca. 1861.”

Documentary Film: “Sharecropper’s Daughter” (In Development)

Sharecropper’s Daughter is a film-in-progress about Nellie “Chubbs” Miles, a talented African-American woman whose life story of triumph and tragedy provides a powerful prism through which to examine a little known facet of the American experience—that of economically challenged African Americans who grew up in the system of tobacco sharecropping in the mid-20th century. Miles has witnessed, first-hand, pre-industrial, industrial, and post-industrial America and has been an active participant and worker as a fashion designer and small business owner—yet she has always remained economically deprived without health insurance, credit cards or resources many Americans take for granted. At age 60 Miles started to be invited to go to schools and share her experiences and skills with young children. This film follows Miles from the first time she is invited to Discovery Charter, an inner city school in Newark, New Jersey until she moves from her rental home to the “big city” of Greensboro, North Carolina where she settled after living in a rural area of the North Carolina Piedmont since childhood.