Private Project

Rasheeda's Freedom Day

Rasheeda’s Freedom Day is a new short film from Harrison Center and Dija Henry of The Blue House that tells the true story of longtime Indianapolis resident and greatriarch (a member of a community who has helped write the story of the neighborhood) Ms. JoAnna LeNoir. She has spent her life learning that her story is worth sharing and now she’s sharing it with you. In 1962, Ms. JoAnna found the courage to take herself, her mother Rasheeda, and her siblings out of an abusive family situation to find freedom and community in the Indianapolis neighborhood Martindale-Brightwood. Every year since then, they have invited their family, friends, and neighbors on Columbia Street to celebrate “Rasheeda’s Freedom Day” on the anniversary of their escape. As the film shows, a healthy community gives us the courage to share our stories with our neighbors so we can be known and loved.

  • Dija Renuka Henry
    Breathe, Love Jordan, Moving Still
  • Ruthie Buescher
  • Moriah Miller
  • Dija Renuka Henry
  • Kurtis Bowersock
  • Hadessa Joy Henry
    Key Cast
    "Joanna "
  • Dija Renuka Henry
    Key Cast
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  • Runtime:
    25 minutes
  • Production Budget:
    52,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Dija Renuka Henry

Dija Henry is an award winning film and stage actress, community advocate, filmmaker and author of I Dare You Not to Compare Yourself with Others. She holds a B.A. in Acting and Biomechanics from Purdue University.

She has appeared in award winning projects such as Breathe (Chicago Multi-Cultural Film Festival winner), Love Jordan (Best Short Chicago Multi-Cultural Film Festival) Healed by Grace (Dove Seal Award Winner), and Dress and Groom for Success (Telly Award Winner).

Dija is the Executive producer and co-founder of The Blue House which is a social impact entertainment company dedicated to telling diverse stories with mental health themes that facilitate heart changing conversation to elevate our culture to a more equitable, inclusive and empathetic society. Her films can be found on Amazon Prime and Vimeo on Demand.

Dija is of Jamaican and Indian descent, (Awagwan and Namaste!) raised with a global mentality and a sensitivity to cultural issues. As a descendant of Activists, Christian preachers and Hindu priests, she believes that serving others is part of her purpose here on earth.

For over 17 years she has served with The Felege Hiywot Center, an urban farm that uses STEM programming to teach leadership skills to at-risk youth. Dija has also served two Americorps terms with the immigrant and refugee service corps winning the Americorps Impact Award for her service of significance and impact in the city of Indianapolis, IN. Dija was recently invited by Mayor Fadness of Fishers, IN to serve on the Racial Equity Committee Network.

On her blog, Dija creates content around balancing her creative career with raising a multi-cultural family, living with M.S. and the intersection of faith, film and social justice.

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Director Statement

I have been volunteering in the Martindale-Brightwood area for 17 years through The Felege Hiywot Center. Two of those years were through my Americorps Service. Over the years I've grown to love this neighborhood and truly respect the history that is embedded in this neighborhood and it's residents. The Harrison Center for the Arts has worked to preserve stories of the long term residents of Martindale-Brightwood for several years. I was invited to adapt Rasheeda's Freedom Day written and directed for the stage by Ruthie Buescher, who also wrote the screenplay. I was really moved by Ms Joanna's courage at such a young age and was honored to tell this story especially to honor a resident from this community. Throughout this process we've seen this film touch others and give them courage to tell their survival stories as well. I hope that we can keep making that impact by sharing this film with more people.