"I am a media activist. The ambition I have for my work is to inform and spark movement. I want folks to get up and do something about the wrongs that are happening in the world, the nation, and in their communities."
Tina Morton (b. 1956) left a career as an X-ray technician to pursue documentary filmmaking after she researched the tale of Corrine Sykes, the first African-American woman to be legally executed in Philadelphia. With an established interest in oral history and film, Morton discussed Sykes' tale with her senior patients and discovered discrepancies between their stories and the documented history of the execution. She eventually completed a film about Sykes in 1997, Severed Souls, and she since continued to develop her role as a "video oral historian," documenting narratives of community life and speaking to her African-American heritage. Morton's film Belly of the Basin, a documentary on Hurricane Katrina, focuses on marginalized groups affected by the disaster: people from the Ninth Ward, the Black Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans and the Native American Houma Tribe. Belly of the Basin won best documentary at the 2008 Black Hollywood Film Festival and has received praise for its authentic representation of the community's voice. "Many people feel comfortable sharing their stories with someone whose purpose is centered with mutual respect in allowing them to tell their story their own way," Morton says. She is currently a professor in Howard University's department of radio, television, and film.