This proposed project seeks to explore the fraught history and cultural meaning of a small tributary of the Blue River located in Johnson County, Kansas, known as “Negro Creek.” The creek’s controversial name has recently come under scrutiny, with conflicting theories surrounding its origins and historical significance. While some believe the name references the site’s use as part of the Underground Railroad, others contend that it derives from a tragic incident involving the escape and subsequent suicide of a Missouri plantation slave. This lack of consensus has sparked a debate about how to properly acknowledge and memorialize this history, particularly within the context of a predominantly white, affluent suburb where such narratives are often obscured or ignored.

To delve deeper into these complex issues, this documentary project proposes a multifaceted approach, combining traditional interviews with local historians, politicians, and community members, as well as more experimental, performative sequences that use the physical space of the creek itself as a canvas for exploring themes of identity, memory, and truth. The resulting film aims to offer a nuanced and textured portrait of a community grappling with its past, illuminating the tensions between preservation and progress, tradition and innovation, and remembrance and erasure that lie at the heart of many contemporary cultural debates.

Through careful attention to cinematic technique and visual storytelling, this documentary seeks to foster a deeper engagement with the human experience, conveying both the sensory immediacy of the creek and the rich, often troubled history that surrounds it. By amplifying the voices of those who have been historically marginalized, the film also aims to create a more inclusive and equitable vision of the future, one that acknowledges and honors the diversity of human experience in all its complexity. Ultimately, this project represents an innovative and thought-provoking exploration of the power of art to inspire critical reflection, foster empathy, and promote social change.