Moving Midway - A Documentary by Godfrey Cheshire


Abraham Lincoln Hinton, one of the real-life stars of Moving Midway, turns 100 on December 15, 2009! 

Abraham was born in Wake County in 1909, the year America was celebrating the 100th birthday of his namesake, the president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. During Abraham’s early years, he was close to his paternal grandfather, Ruffin Hinton, the mixed-race son of North Carolina Treasurer Charles Lewis Hinton and Selanie Toby, an enslaved plantation cook. Born in 1848, the year that Charles Lewis built Midway Plantation outside of Raleigh, Ruffin passed to his grandson the memory of his black and white ancestry, which was lost after the Civil War to their white kin but remembered by Abraham and his African-American family. 

In search of a better life during the Great Depression, Abraham moved to New York City in the 1930s, and later served in World War II. 

In 2006, Abraham’s son, Al Hinton, was researching family history when he made contact with NYU professor Robert Hinton, whose grandfather was born a slave at Midway Plantation and who revealed that he was working on a documentary called Moving Midway about the plantation’s history. Dr. Hinton and writer-director Godfrey Cheshire, a descendent of the white Hintons, met and interviewed Abraham – whose memories of Ruffin form a crucial link in the film’s narrative – and later took him to North Carolina to be an honored guest at the reopening of Midway Plantation, as is shown in the film’s final scene. 

Abraham, who lives in Harlem, attended the film’s first showing at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April, 2007, and its New York premiere at Lincoln Center in April, 2008.  

Godfrey Cheshire says, “My cousin Abraham is a real hero to me. His ancestors came out of slavery and he has been through some tough times, but he has retained his warm spirit, philosophical outlook and good humor throughout everything. Meeting him and his family was one of the great joys of making my film. All of the Moving Midway team wish him a very happy 100th birthday and many happy returns.” 

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