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Behind the Scenes: The Making of To God and Truth

To God and Truth: The Life and Legacy of Bishop Wesley John Gaines is the latest documentary production from Historic Oakland Foundation, in partnership with Morris Brown College. To celebrate the release of the film, we are sharing content and resources about Morris Brown College, Black history in Atlanta, and the impressive legacy of Oakland resident Bishop Wesley John Gaines.

Many months of work went into the creation of To God and Truth: The Life and Legacy of Bishop Wesley John Gaines. The project was first conceived in August 2020 by Dr. Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College, and Richard Harker, executive director of Historic Oakland Foundation. The histories of these two organizations overlap in a significant way in the figure of Bishop Wesley John Gaines, founder of Morris Brown College and notable Oakland resident.

The demands of 2020 shaped how the two institutions approached their historic partnership. The documentary format of this project presented Historic Oakland Foundation with another way to share Bishop Gaines’ inspirational story with the public even as the COVID-19 pandemic closed the cemetery’s facilities. The year also saw several significant moments in Morris Brown’s history: in May of 2020 Dr. James was officially named the 19th President of the College, and in November, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools accepted the accreditation application of the school.

With Steve Bransford of Terminus Films behind the camera, Historic Oakland Foundation staff interviewed historians, notable Atlantans, and a descendent of Bishop Gaines who now oversees the hometown pastorate, Jackson Chapel A.M.E., founded by Gaines and his brother. Steve has worked with the Foundation to create many of its successful filmed programs, such as our 2020 Capturing the Spirit of Oakland film. He is also one of the artists featured annually at Oakland’s springtime Illumine event.

We are ever grateful to all who participated in the making of the film, and we wish Morris Brown the bright future it so clearly deserves.

All proceeds from donations for the film go to support Morris Brown’s reaccreditation process and Historic Oakland Foundation’s mission to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery. Thank you for your support!

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