The Thin Edge of Freedom: The Life and Times of Thomas Day is a documentary-film-in-progress on the life and times of Thomas Day, a free black cabinetmaker who lived and worked in North Carolina in the 19th century. There were thousands of black artisans and entrepreneurs in the 18th and 19th century and Day is one who has been the subject of much research. There have not been any major documentary films on the experience of free African Americans in the antebellum period and this film aims to be the first to address this little known American experience. This film has been in development for over a decade and although it will be almost entirely re-shot using the latest film technology, this short promotional conveys some of the themes the film will address.
Thomas Day (1801-ca. 1861) was a free African American furniture maker who had the largest furniture shop in North Carolina by the mid-19th century. Day's life and work are intriguing to a 21st century audience because he challenges many commonly held stereotypes about the old South. For example, Day was a successful free black businessman during the height of slavery; he was a black slave owner; and there is strong evidence he had close ties with both white and black abolitionists in the North.
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