Connect with us

Black History

Telling Our Stories Through Griot Eyes


Rev. David P. Butts

On the closing day of Reel Sisters Film Festival presentations, Sunday, October 21, a discussion moderated by  ImageNation co-founder Moikgantsi Kgama  circled into great stories untold, lost or forgotten within our own families and networks.  Stories that would make great films.   


That topic was inspired by Reel Sisters’ founder Carolyn Butts response to one of our questions in the last issue concerning what stories she would like to film. She quickly cited her grandfather, The Rev. David P. Butts, who was the pastor and builder of St. Mark United Church of Christ in Norfolk, Va.  

The Butts Family portrait (L to R.): Doris Butts, David Butts, Jr. (Booster),
Naimo Butts, Frank Butts (My dad), Raymond Butts, Margaret Butts, Rev.
David Butts and Minnie Butts (Carolyn’s grandmother).

In sharing these images of her grandfather and his work, Carolyn reminds us how images – still and moving – are story-keepers, and particularly for people of color, they document the essence of legacy redefined.   

In celebrating the founding 20 years ago of “Reel Sisters” and 25 years ago of the acclaimed “African Voices,” we zoom on the face of Rev. Butts or the folded hands of a family member and we understand that what these people passed forward from several generations before them helped put in motion Ms. Butts’ founding of “Reel Sisters” and “African Voices”. 

Carolyn Butts,
Founder of Reel Sisters

A young Carolyn Butts with her grandfather.

A photo of the church being built








Within the context of the headlines of these times, we know these are no average people; they exude dignity, strength, courage, wisdom, grace and beauty in the face of the ongoing subplot of the struggle to survive and carry on.

Continue Reading