Daniel and Mary Bell sued for their freedom from slavery and won. After slaveholders threaten to re-enslave them and their children, the Bells led one of the largest escape attempts in American history.
The Bell family’s inspiring story is brought to cinema for the first time.
The Bell Affair Official Trailer from saltmarshproductions LLC on Vimeo.
In the summer of 1835, a strike at the Washington Navy Yard fueled a citywide race riot. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Francis Scott Key, set out to prosecute abolitionist Reuben Crandall for libelous sedition and the intent to incite a slave revolt.
In the midst of this political turmoil, Daniel Bell convinced Mary’s dying slaveholder, Robert Armstead, to emancipate Mary and the children. Two days later, Armstead died, and his widow Susan Armstead refused to honor the Bells’ freedom.
The film was produced with major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Maryland Humanities, The Kitty M. Perkins Foundation, and the Office of Research and Economic Development at The University of Nebraska- Lincoln.
This event is part of "Freedom Stories", a two-year initiative between a coalition of organizations and agencies in Prince George’s County to provide antiracist and social justice programs. The coalition includes Joe’s Movement Emporium, Prince George’s Community College Center for Performing Arts, Prince George’s County Historical Society, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, and the Prince George’s County Office of Human Rights.