Digital Diaspora Family Reunion
Founder turns his anomalous family reunion into a TV show
Picture this. Family, friends and people you are meeting for the first time all in one room. Over the course of 90 minutes there is crying, laughter and exclamations of joy, some all at the same time. And there are photos, hundreds of them. This is the atmosphere of the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion (DDFR), a roadshow, or at least one aspect of this effervescent legacy initiative created in 2011 by documentary filmmaker, Thomas Allen Harris, known for the critically acclaimed Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. DDFR’s purpose—to break down barriers and inculcate dialogues across cultures and between generations,” and to “celebrate the connections, shared values and common experiences that unite us all in our basic humanity,”—is met through the use of film, video, live events, social media and workshops.
The DDFR has taken place in communities across North America, Europe and Latin America. The events take place on college campuses, in museums, theaters, libraries, film festivals and other community venues. There is also an online component, where those who wish to participate, but can’t make it to the location, may upload photos and share their stories. Now, DDFR is going to have it’s own television show. This summer the DDFR will be in Detroit to film the series, Family Pictures: USA, which takes an up close and personal look at Detroit’s rapidly changing landscape and its people. Harris will interview residents “to get their take on the past, present and future of the Motor City, as seen through the family photo album.”
Family Pictures: USA is created in partnership with the Detroit 67 Project and conducted by the Detroit Historical Society.
Community Photo-Sharing Sessions & Filming: June 17 through July 21
Participants may bring a selection of their favorite photos to spend 10-15 minutes with the production team sharing their Detroit story. Sessions are first come, first served and are limited to the first 30 people who sign up. Filming takes place at various locations, including the Horace Sheffield Center, Church of the Messiah, the Arab American National Museum and Gordon Park. To reserve your spot send an email to: 1World1Family.firstname.lastname@example.org with “My Detroit Story” in the subject line. You may also call (212) 281–6002 and ask for the “Detroit Desk.” A complete listing of dates and locations may be found at
Photo Collage and text © Jelani Bandele 2017