Rider student explores African American veterans’ fight for civil rights in docu-series | #students | #parents

Junior Danielle “Dani” Jackson, a history and film and television double major, is turning an academic research project into a 12-part documentary series about African American veterans’ fight for civil rights thanks to a recent Kickstarter campaign. 

Junior Danielle “Dani” Jackson is filming the documentary series A Two-Front War.

Named a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter, the campaign — which has exceeded its original goal of $5,500 and raised more than $8,000 to date — will allow Jackson to finalize her first episode of the documentary series, A Two-Front War. The series chronicles the stories of African American World War I and II veterans who fought for their country abroad and for their own civil rights at home. Jackson hopes to raise awareness for a forgotten demographic of national heroes. 

“A lot of times in history, African Americans are portrayed and seen in enslavement,” Jackson says. “We show their oppression. We show their bondage. But I would like for people to see their strength. I would like for these veterans to be remembered for the super soldiers that they were.” 

Jackson began working on the project after receiving an Undergraduate Research Scholar Award (URSA) from Rider. Each spring, a small group of students are selected to receive the $5,000 award, dedicated to supporting independent student research and scholarship. Encouraged by her professor and adviser, Dr. Shawn Kildea, Jackson stepped into the director’s chair. 

“The more we talked about this project and brainstormed, it seemed like this could be a series, not just a short film,” Kildea says. “The idea would be to first make a 24-minute program of high enough quality that could be brought to a Netflix, an Amazon, a Hulu and pitch it as a series.” 

Always interested in U.S. military history, Jackson says she did not realize the depth of African American soldiers’ involvement until she began researching.

“It wasn’t until I was able to deep dive did I realize we have been here the entire time in terms of participating since the Revolutionary War,” she says.  

A number of junior Rider film and television majors are also involved in the project, including executive producers Benjamin Ross and Patrick Konopka, production manager Sarah Waldron, assistant project manager Tiffany Hartman and boom operator Andrew Jacabacci.  

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