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Behind the Scenes

Mary Beth Marshall Hester
Mary Beth Marshall Hester
Associate Producer

Associate producer Mary Beth Marshall Hester is a native of Mason County, an area which played a pivotal role in Kentucky's slave history. She's been working on Kentucky's Underground Railroad for two years digging up stories that for the most part aren't written down anywhere and with very little concrete artifacts remaining from the era.

The stories were difficult to put together - you know they're out there, but they're not connected, she says.

"In a way it's like detective work," explains Mary Beth, whose job it was to help gather facts; find connections; and then search for people to interview; old photographs, and locations to videotape, etc.

Mary Beth hopes that after seeing Kentucky's Underground Railroad, both white and African American viewers will want to discover their own legacies, their own parts in this story, as she and her parents are doing.

"A project like this is very close to my home and heart," she says. "Being black, a descendent of slaves, I wanted to know more about me and where I'm from - which I have. My parents and I are writing down the family's history."

The project took its toll emotionally, says Mary Beth. Early on, the images were overwhelming.

"I didn't want to see or hear anymore of this," she says. "I didn't want to listen to another person's story." After constant exposure, however, Mary Beth says it gave her the power to put aside her revulsion in order to tell the story. "It doesn't numb you, but you know the story has to be told," she says. "We need to talk about this, not just in the month of February."

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 09-May-2006 10:39:15 Eastern Daylight Time