Abena Productions


Freedom Bags

Freedom Bags


Produced by Stanley Nelson and Elizabeth Clark-Lewis

  • "Shows that these women deserve respect and dignity. An excellent film that deserves a place in all libraries." - Library Journal

  • "A smooth narrative places reminiscences within the historical perspective of the Depression and the founding of Social Security and of domestic unions in this tribute to the domestic worker." - Booklist

Freedom Bags is the story of African-American women who migrated from the rural south during the first three decades of the 20th century. Hoping to escape from the racism and poverty of the post-Civil War South, they boarded segregated trains for an uncertain future up North. Having had limited education, most could find jobs only as houseworkers.


With spirit and humor, the women remember their tactics for self preservation in the homes of their employers, where they often faced exploitation and sexual harassment. After hours they relished their independence and enjoyed good times with friends and family. Their stories are interwoven with rare footage, still photographs, and period music to create a portrait of the largest internal migration in U.S. history. These were proud women who kept their dignity and sense of worth through difficult times.


Gold Apple, National Educational Film & Video Festival, 1991
American Film & Video Festival, 1991
Best Non-Fiction Film, Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, 1990


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