CCA and Collected Works present this online conversation covering an essential part of American history. The short documentary, The Other Madisons, documents the process by which an oral tradition preserves an important social record, both in spite of and in response to suppression and racism.

The documentary serves as an extension of Bettye Kearse’s groundbreaking, award-winning book The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family. Bettye Kearse—a descendant of an enslaved cook and, according to oral tradition, President James Madison—shares her family story and explores the issues of legacy, race, and the powerful consequences of telling the whole truth.

Kearse’s book garnered international acclaim, claiming the International Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society’s Book Award for Nonfiction and was listed by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the top ten best history books of 2020. Part personal quest, part testimony, part historical correction, The Other Madisons is the saga of an extraordinary American family told by a griotte in search of the whole story.

Following the 37-minute documentary livestream, the author Bettye Kearse will engage in a panel discussion with the CEO at the First Amendment Museum, Christian Cotz, and the renowned Argentinian-American author and filmmaker, Eduardo Montes-Bradley, who directed The Other Madisons documentary. Moderated by Pamelya Herndon, President/CEO of the KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change.


Bettye Kearse is a writer and retired pediatrician who moved from Boston to Santa Fe three years ago. According to her family’s oral history, she is a descendant of the enslaved cook Coreen and Coreen’s enslaver, and half-brother, President James Madison. Her deeply personal memoir, The Other Madisons: The Lost History of A President’s Black Family, has garnered strong reader and editorial reviews.

It earned an International Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s Book Award for Nonfiction and was listed by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the top ten best history books of 2020 and by Kirkus as one of the best nonfiction books of 2020.

Christian Cotz is the CEO at the First Amendment Museum in Augusta, Maine, which is committed to helping people understand and inspiring them to live their First Amendment freedoms. Previously, he spent nearly two decades working at James Madison’s Montpelier in central Virginia where he oversaw interpretation and education.

Christian was at the forefront of Montpelier’s work with the Descendant Community and was the project director for the award-winning exhibition, The Mere Distinction of Colour.

Eduardo Montes-Bradley is a multiple award-winning Argentinian-American documentarian, author, producer, and director of films about social conflicts and important world figures fighting for social justice. In 2008, he and his wife, Soledad Liendo, founded the Heritage Film Project. The project’s films include Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights MovementRita Dove: An American Poet, and Evita: The Documentary.

Pamelya Herndon serves as the President/CEO of the KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change. This nonprofit law center provides access to justice for low- and medium-income individuals and advocates for the rights of women, children, and families with children. In addition, Pamelya is the first vice president of the Albuquerque branch of the NAACP, occasionally hosts the weekly KUNM radio gospel music program “Train to Glory,” and serves as vice president of the board of directors of the African American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque, the only African American performing arts center in the Southwest. Pamelya is a 2019-2021 W.K. Kellogg Fellow.