A film about old wounds and the audacity to heal

"History doesn't merely refer to the past. The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us." - James Baldwin


A massacre of hundreds of Black sharecroppers in Elaine, Arkansas,
still overshadows the community today.
How do you heal such deep wounds?


ECHOES FROM ELAINE intimately examines how a long enshrouded race massacre still haunts Black and White descendants a century later. While trauma, shame and denial persist in the massacre’s long shadow, some descendants are trying to reconcile with the past.
1919, Elaine Arkansas. When white landowners sent men to investigate a union meeting by Black sharecroppers, a shooting broke out, triggering a bloodbath. Over several days, posses and federal troops, called in to “restore order”, gunned down as many as 200 African Americans. Captured “insurrectionists” were jailed and tortured, including Sheila Walker’s great grand uncles. When Sheila befriends the grandson of a Klansman who took part in the killings, she sets out to Elaine, compelled to shine a light on this largely unknown history.

Chester Johnson & Sheila Walker in 2014

Sheila & Chester, descendants from opposite sides of the massacre, meet in person

Chester Johnson and his grandfather Lonnie

Grandpa Lonnie & Chester as a boy

"If you don't unmask the demons, you're not freeing the next generation of those demons." - Chester Johnson, descendant of a perpetrator

Sheila, her son Marcus and Chester in the "killing fields" near Elaine, Arkansas


ECHOES FROM ELAINE reflects America’s struggle to reckon with its history.
Through community engagement and educational outreach, our film will contribute to the conversation around racial reckoning and serve as a teaching tool.

To learn more, email the filmmaker at or jump to the contact form.

Elaine, Arkansas

"I'm just driven to not let this story get lost."
- Sheila Walker, descendant of survivors


ECHOES FROM ELAINE is a reflection of this nation's struggle to reckon with its past. Following Sheila to the Arkansas Delta, viewers realize how history still reverberates today in complex ways.

In current-day Elaine, Arkansas, the White washed narrative of a Black uprising is still alive. A plan for a memorial is met not only with expected resistance from some Whites but also with opposition from some Blacks, who demand reparations instead. Through lenses of both White and Black descendants, the film explores larger national issues of reconciliation and intergenerational trauma.

ECHOES FROM ELAINE encourages viewers to consider important questions: Can there be reconciliation without full acceptance of the past? Is emotional trauma passed down through generations? And what about economic inheritance?

1919 Elaine, AR during the massacre

1919 - A posse gathers on Main Street, Elaine, Arkansas

Elaine Ar, Main Street today

Today - Elaine’s Main Street is economically devastated

"We get along fine!
The Whites might fight with the Whites
and the Blacks with the Blacks...
but we don't fight each other."
- Pat Caery, Elaine resident

"In our town, we have the White folk side and the Black folk side. There's a thin line."
- Ora Scaiffe

Elaine, Arkansas


Stories can transform how we see others and ourselves, and ECHOES FROM ELAINE tells a powerful story of how the past overshadows the present. Once released (we're currently in post production), our film will serve as a teaching tool and contribute to important conversations around racial reckoning and transgenerational trauma.

Here’s how we’ll do this:

SCREENING & DISCUSSION CAMPAIGN, in-person and online events reaching audiences and facilitating conversation

GRASSROOTS OUTREACH to organizations, churches, libraries, local community centers

EDUCATIONAL ENGAGEMENT campaign to reach high school and college educators & students

FESTIVAL RELEASE to build audiences and engage national press

NATIONAL TELEVISION BROADCAST (PBS) reaching millions of viewers

DIGITAL RELEASE through iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix

Interested in hosting a screening & discussion or showing the film in your classroom?
Or in learning more about how the film could advance your organization's mission?
Please drop us a line!

Elaine, Arkansas

Animation still

"Uncle Albert fought in WWI.
Back at home, the same soldiers he served with are now gunning at him. American troops killing American citizens!"
- Marcus Walker, descendant of survivors


Franziska Blome - Director / Producer / Editor

The Emmy-Award winning filmmaker has worked for 25 years in the documentary field, mostly on highly acclaimed films for public television. As the daughter-in-law of Sheila Walker, the protagonist at the heart of the film, Franziska has a direct connection to the story. Having lived in South Africa during Apartheid, and grown up in Germany, descending from a family with both supporters and opponents of the Third Reich, her perspective is informed by an intimate sense of the power of history, the pain of silence, and the value of reconciliation and reparations.


Llewellyn Smith - Executive Producer / Co-director

Llewellyn Smith has written, produced and directed groundbreaking documentary films for over thirty years and received numerous broadcasting honors, including the DuPont and Peabody Awards, and the Kavli Science Journalism Award. At the heart of his work are stories that explore how racial injustice is too often nourished by misuses of history and science.

Elaine, Arkansas

Drs. Jerrilyn & Chris Jones - Executive Producers for Development

Dr. Jerrilyn Jones, an Air Force combat veteran and expert in emergency medicine, along with Dr. Chris Jones, a rocket scientist, ordained minister and 7th generation Arkansan, are both passionate about films like ECHOES FROM ELAINE that explore and preserve vital unknown stories from Arkansas’ past. They are equally passionate about ensuring that these stories serve to guide toward a future that uplifts everyone.

Elaine, Arkansas


Interested in learning more about the film? Or about using the film for a screening or in your classroom? We'd love to hear from you! (We promise to keep your address private.)

Elaine, Arkansas


Our film is now in post production. Once released, ECHOES FROM ELAINE will contribute to important conversations around racial reckoning and transgenerational trauma through screenings and discussions. But before the film can have this impact, we need to raise more funds to finish it, to pay for music, animations and the sound mix.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution via our fiscal sponsor, Filmmakers Collaborative - the link below will take you to their portal.