With an eye toward the March 26 release of the IVP Academic title Awakening to Justice: Faithful Voices from the Abolitionist Past, the accompanying film by the same name will premiere at Justice Film Festival in New York City February 21–24, 2024.

The Awakening to Justice film details what happens when a historian discovers a forgotten abolitionist manuscript dated from 1839, only to find that he and his fellow researchers uncovered a text that sheds light on the reality of racism today—and the history of faith and race in America

“The origins of Awakening to Justice sounds like something out of a mystery novel, starting with the discovery of a previously unknown handwritten journal in a box in the back of a storage closet at a small Christian college,” said Jon Boyd, associate publisher and academic editorial director at InterVarsity Press. “Upon investigation, it turned out to be a never-before-studied journal kept by an abolitionist in the 1830s—and the tale gets more interesting from there.”

In 2015, the historian Chris Momany helped discover a manuscript that had been forgotten in a storage closet at Adrian College in Michigan. He identified it as the journal of a nineteenth-century Christian abolitionist and missionary, David Ingraham. As Momany and a fellow historian Doug Strong pored over the diary, they realized that studying this document could open new conversations for twenty-first-century Christians to address the reality of racism today. They invited a multiracial team of fourteen scholars to join in, thus launching the Dialogue on Race and Faith Project.

The Dialogue on Race and Faith Project brings together a multicultural team of Christian scholars to study a newly discovered abolitionist journal, to meet and travel to sites of importance from the nineteenth-century antislavery movement, and to discuss how issues of faith and race among abolitionists may provide a usable history for addressing the struggle for racial justice today.

Project members and contributors include Jemar Tisby, Christopher P. Momany, Sègbégnon Mathieu Gnonhossou, David D. Daniels III, R. Matthew Sigler, Douglas M. Strong, Diane Leclerc, Esther Chung-Kim, Albert G. Miller, and Estrelda Y. Alexander.

The book Awakening to Justice, which also includes a study guide, explores the groundbreaking work of these scholars and offers insight and hope for people engaged in the work of racial justice.

Boyd said, “We are honored to be partnering with The Dialogue on Race and Faith Project to publish the book that contains the group’s historical research into the background, context, and actions of the interracial community behind this early justice movement—and its thought-provoking implications for Christians in our own time.”

The Awakening to Justice film highlights intentional, countercultural communities as examples of interracial cooperation and equality, and provides a fresh approach to today’s conversations about race and faith in the church.

Andy Peterson, founder and creative director for Justice Film Festival, said, “Awakening to Justice challenges viewers to consider the history that has led to the racial divide we’re experiencing, and it inspires us with a pathway for healing. As such, it’s a perfect film for Justice Film Festival, and we are proud to present its world premiere in New York City.” 

Justice Film Festival is the foremost showcase for films that shine a light on social justice and affirm the dignity of all people. Since 2012, JFF has been dedicated to creating a platform for redemptive stories of marginalized people and ecosystems bravely overcoming challenges and bringing hope, compassion, and light to a world in need of inspiration. 

Justice Film Festival celebrates diverse voices, amplifies stories from underserved communities, and bears witness to injustice worldwide with films focused on racial and environmental justice, poverty, trafficking, equality for women, health care, education, justice for immigrants and refugees, and many other important topics.