The true story of Virginia Christian, a 16-year-old African American girl accused of murder in the Jim Crow South.

Director’s Vision

AN ACT OF TERROR is a short film based on the true story of Virginia Christian, a 16-year-old African American girl who was accused of murdering the white woman she worked for in Hampton, Virginia in 1912. I encountered Virginia Christian’s story around the same time #sayhername and #findourgirls were trending on social media. Sandra Bland. Tarika Wilson. Korryn Gaines. Name by name my eyes were opened to the violent oppression and silencing of Black women in America. I saw Virginia Christian in every brutal story.

The film’s final sequence is a call to confront the narrative of racial difference that sanctioned slavery, allowed thousands of Black Americans to be lynched, and stubbornly persists in our criminal justice system today. Racial injustice endures because white Americans seem determined to remain blind to its violent presence in the bedrock of our institutions. Once you encounter a story like Virginia Christian’s, that truth is impossible to ignore.

History repeats itself because stories like Virginia Christian’s disappear. Through AN ACT OF TERROR, I hope we’re able to more closely examine America’s failure to address its legacy of racial inequality and the centuries of racial terror that legacy has wrought. Until we find the courage to do so, we are bound to the ugly history we have inherited and the lies we’ve told ourselves to live with it.