Film featuring Holmes to be presented

Published 8:30 am Friday, September 23, 2022

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Archaeologist and archival researcher Kathy Liston of Phenix says the story of Joseph R. Holmes is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, at 6:30 p.m., The Prizery in South Boston and One Community Halifax will present “154 Years: The Joseph Holmes Story,” a film by Will Johnson and Henry Basilica.

“Joe Holmes received a lot of publicity at the time of his murder but then was forgotten,” Liston said. “I am thrilled that 150+ years later, he is finally getting the recognition he deserves.”

It was 10 years ago that Liston and Lisa Henderson, the great great grandniece of Holmes, began the journey to have Holmes recognized.

“I never dreamed we could achieve the recognition for Joe that has come,” Liston said.

The story of Joseph R. Holmes, formerly enslaved in Charlotte County, who campaigned for civil rights and education after emancipation, has been brought to life by Longwood University students Will Johnson and Henry Basilica, who made a documentary film about Holmes for a senior class project at Longwood University.

Holmes was elected to represent Halifax and Charlotte Counties at the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868. For his stand on civil rights and education for all, he was murdered on the Charlotte County courthouse steps on May 3, 1869, by four white men.

According to Liston, the men charged with his murder were never tried.

The film recounts Holmes’ story, and features interviews with Liston, local educator and activist Monique Williams, retired educator Alex Haskins, and Holmes descendant Lisa Henderson.

Last October, a historical marker honoring Homes was unveiled and dedicated in Court House Square in Charlotte Court House.

“Joseph R. Holmes should not be defined by his murder; He was so much more than that,” Liston said.

Following the showing of the film, there will be a panel discussion, and audience Q & A. Historian Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, the Endowed Professor of Virginia Black History and Culture at Norfolk State University, will be a featured panelist.

The Joseph Holmes Story was featured in Longwood University’s Showcase and has been submitted for a local Emmy.