ArtsCommunity News

FREE SCREENING and DISCUSSION: New Film ‘Bloodlines of the Slave Trade’ Has Deep Alexandria Ties

Alexandria Film Festival Presents Special Screening of In Honor of Black History Month

ALEXANDRIA, VA – In honor of Black History Month, the Alexandria Film Festival will present Bloodlines of the Slave Trade, a documentary that examines the lives of two people whose only connection is a genetic link to two notorious Alexandria-based slave traders of the 1830s.

Rodney (who is Black) and Susanna (who is white) have very different lived experiences as their slave-trading ancestors continue to impact their lives. Susanna’s grandfather was named for Issac Franklin and John Armfield, the largest traders of enslaved African Americans in the nation between 1828 and 1836, and Rodney is a descendant of John Armfield.

The Freedom House Museum in Old Town, the original headquarters of the Armfield Franklin slave trading company, traces the history of human trafficking in Alexandria and the South. “While we celebrate Black History this month,” said Alexandria Film Festival Chair Dara Sanders, “this film is every bit as much about Alexandria’s history, and how we negotiate the legacy of our beloved city.”

Audrey Davis, executive director of the Alexandria Black History Museum is featured in the film and will participate in a Q&A panel following the film screening, along with film subjects Susanna Grannis and Melanie Pflaum.

Old black and white photo of the original building where the slaves were housed before auctions
Franklin and Armfield Slave Office and Marker at 1315 Duke Street in Alexandria, Va. The inscription reads: Isaac Franklin and John Armfield leased this brick building with access to the wharves and docks in 1828 as a holding pen for enslaved people being shipped from Northern Virginia to Louisiana. They purchased the building and three lots in 1832. From this location Armfield bought bondspeople at low prices and shipped them south to his partner Franklin in Natchez, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana, to be sold at higher prices. By the 1830s, they often sold 1,000 people annually, operating as one of the largest slave-trading companies in the United States until 1836. Slave traders continuously owned the property until 1861.



WHERE: The Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA.

WHEN: Feb. 25; doors open at 6:00 pm; film at 6:30 pm. Tickets ($15) available at and at the door.


Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

Related Articles

Back to top button