Professor Marta Effinger-Crichlow, African American Studies Department, was an invited speaker at the New York Women’s Foundation event “Neighborhood Gathering in the Bronx: Art, Gender, and Social Justice,” on June 14 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. She was joined by Caridad De La Luz (La Bruja), spoken word artist/activist, and Victoria Sammartino, founder and executive director emeritus of Voices UnBroken.
Professor Effinger-Crichlow spoke about her new film Little Sallie Walker, a feature-length documentary that tells the story of how black women played as children. In a captivating return to childhood, a diverse group of black women, many of whom are sharing their stories for the first time, reveal with vulnerability how they have lived with play. They came of age during the birth and height of World War II, Civil Rights, and Hip Hop, and dared to create worlds where their imaginations soared.
While the title of the film is inspired by the classic circle game, the women of Little Sallie Walker, now all living in different regions of the US, admit they were not bound by one type of play. The circle games, the hand games, the dress up, the somersaults, the dolls, the skating, the infinite imagining through play, evoke memories of both pleasure and pain and shape how these women view American society and their positions within it. Effinger-Crichlow created the film with the support of an Independent Filmmaker Project JustFilms Fellowship.
Marta Effinger-Crichlow, PhD, is the author of Staging Migrations Toward an American West: From Ida B. Wells to Rhodessa Jones (University Press of Colorado). Her other writings have been published in African American Lives, Theatre Journal, African American Review, Footsteps: Children’s Magazine, Journal of Black Studies, and the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
Effinger-Crichlow is also a dramaturg, playwright, and filmmaker. In addition to Little Sallie Walker, produced works include the multi-media collage The Kitchen is Closed Startin’ Sunday and Whispers Want to Holler. She served as the project director and co-investigator for City Tech’s first ever National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant project titled Retentions and Transfigurations: The Technological Evolution and Social History of Five New York City Neighborhoods. This NEH-funded faculty development initiative was designed to strengthen teaching of humanities within technical and professional studies programs. In 2014, The Network Journal, which recognizes “Black women leaders and influencers in every field,” selected Effinger-Crichlow as one of their “25 Influential Black Women in Business.”
Effinger-Crichlow has been an invited lecturer at The Rosie the Riveter Museum of the National Park Service in Richmond, CA; Syracuse University; The CUNY Graduate Center; The African Burial Ground Museum and Monument of the National Park Service in New York City; Lane College’s NEH Summer Institute in Eugene, OR; and Xiamen University in China. In 2015, she appeared on TEDx CUNY at the TriBeCa Performing Arts Center in New York City.
About the New York Women’s Foundation: The New York Women’s Foundation creates an equitable and just future for women and families by uniting a cross-cultural alliance that ignites action and invests in bold, community-led solutions across the city.
About IFP JustFilms Fellowships: The Independent Filmmaker Project and its Made in NY Media Center offer JustFilms Fellowships to filmmakers who have a unique vision and a deep commitment to addressing inequality their work. Fellowships are open to creatives working in an array of nonfiction forms: long- and short-form film, episodic content, web-based media projects, social impact gaming, 360 video, virtual reality, and more. They seek storytellers who inspire imagination, disrupt stereotypes, and help transform the conditions that perpetuate injustice and inequality. JustFilms Fellows receive 12-month memberships at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, full-time incubator workspace at the Media Center, mentorship by industry leaders and IFP staff, and access to classes, networking events, Media Center facilities and more. These fellowships are made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation.