Ashes to Ashes is a film by Taylor Rees and Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker.
This film tells the story of avid Star Wars fan and master leatherwork artist, Winfred Rembert, who survived an attempted lynching in 1967. The film also brings to light the extraordinary friendship between Winfred and Dr. Shirley, while she is on a mission to memorialize the forgotten 4,000 African Americans lynched during the Jim Crow era through a special home-going ceremony.
To contact Shirley or Winfred, please email email@example.com
Winfred Rembert grew up in rural Georgia. Raised by his great-aunt, Rembert worked with her in the cotton fields during much of his childhood. As a teenager he got involved in the 1960s civil-rights movement. Jailed for fleeing for his life in a stolen car, nearly lynched and then cut down to serve as an example to others, Rembert was sentenced to 27 years in the Georgia Penal System. Despite the cruel prison circumstances, Rembert wrote letters to his would-be wife Patsy as well as to congressmen, with the hope of gaining early release. He also learned the craft of hand-tooling leather from a fellow-prisoner. After seven years, most of which was spent on chain gangs, Rembert was released from prison, but it wasn’t until 1997, at the age of 51, that he began to work more seriously with leather as his artistic medium, creating tooled and dyed canvases that tell the stories of his life. His paintings have been exhibited at galleries across the country. Rembert is the recipient of a 2017 USA Artists Fellowship, and in 2015 was an honoree of Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative. Rembert’s full-color memoir, CHASING ME TO MY GRAVE: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South, is forthcoming with Bloomsbury in 2021. Further information at winfredrembert.com.
Shirley Jackson Whitaker, MD, MPH – Artist and Creator of Ashes to Ashes - Dr. Whitaker attended Yale University School of Medicine-Department of Public Health and obtained her medical degree form Emory University School of Medicine, the only female African American in her class. A kidney specialist by trade, an artist trained under Leonard Baskin, and a healer by passion, her Ashes to Ashes project was developed to provide hope for a better American future, one in which races of varying color and heritage can understand the importance of each other’s American history, empathize with each other’s sacrifices and tragedies, realize the legacy of impacts from suffered injustices and accept that healing is a process as much a cure. She is currently working on the second phase of A2A: The Noose: Thread of Hate and Resilience. This will center on American history through the lens of Lynching and will include an "International Speak My Name Day" to speak the names of the lynched. To support Shirley's work visit ashes2ashes4ever.com/