by Trina Michelle Robinson
I’ve always been fascinated by migration stories. Hearing the details about why a person left the place of their birth to settle somewhere new always satisfied my love of storytelling and origin stories. Perhaps I was pulled into these tales because I was unknowingly trying to fill a void in my own life. Growing up I did not have many stories of my own that had passed down for generations in my family. But once I was able to unlock that door, and discovered the migration stories of my own lineage, I was introduced to a world I had never imagined. The triumphs and brutality, all living together, laid before me. My journey exploring my ancestry has taken me to the archives of libraries and old courthouses throughout the country and as far as the food markets, private beaches and slave prisons in West Africa.
In September 2018 I began a yearlong adventure, touring with the Moth Mainstage to tell the story of how I learned about our family roots in Kentucky, including their years in bondage, their freedom in the years before the Civil War, and eventual migration to Chicago beginning in the late 1860s. I know I have a lot more searching to do and I’m so excited about where this journey will take me next, but this story is the foundation of it all.
Trina Michelle Robinson (https://www.trinamrobinson.com/) is based in San Francisco and is interested in exploring memory through video, archival materials, and text. Her video essay The Call has been exhibited in New York at the 2018 Governors Island Art Fair and the Wassaic Project’s 2018 summer exhibition Change of State, and in the Bay Area at Root Division and Southern Exposure. Her work has also screened at the Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia, NewFilmmakers NY at Film Anthology Archives, Crested Butte Film Festival in Colorado, and the Museum of the Moving Image during the Queens World Film Festival. Her performance and written pieces have been included in the Museum of the African Diaspora’s I’ve known Rivers project, and New Jersey Dramatists Which Way to America at the Jersey City Museum and Puffin Cultural Forum. She has worked in print and digital media as a managing editor and in production at California Sunday Magazine, The New Republic, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Vanity Fair, and content team at Slack. She also worked as a drama and spoken word poetry teaching artist at Women’s Project and Productions in New York.