SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — Jane Manning James, one of the first freeborn African Americans to migrate to Utah, is portrayed in the new documentary Jane Manning James: Your Sister in the Gospel.  The premiere will be held Thursday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Smoot Hall at This Is The Place Heritage Park. Public showings will be available during the Pioneer Festival, July 22, 23, 25.

This documentary portrait is based on the award-winning book series Standing on the Promises by Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray, and is the first of several planned documentaries that will highlight the lives of black pioneers and their march West during the
great migration.

Producer and director Scott Freebairn felt Jane’s story should be told first because she was an important pioneer in the western immigration.  “Jane was one of the few freeborn African Americans to make the trek,” he said.  “As a black Latter-day Saint, Jane knew what it was like to be persecuted because of her faith and the color of her skin. Her story speaks to the intolerance of the past, but inspires because she rose above the injustice to embrace her faith and carry on.”

Freebairn tells this story of faith and courage through rare photographs, Jane’s own words and the candid perceptions of three women who portrayed her on stage and have drawn inspiration from her remarkable life.

Jane Manning James was born free in Connecticut in 1822 and was later converted to Mormonism. She walked to Nauvoo, Illinois, almost 800 miles, where she lived with and worked for Joseph and Emma Smith. In 1848, she immigrated to Utah with members of Brigham Young’s household. She lived in Salt Lake City until her death and was honored at her funeral by President Joseph F. Smith.

This is the Place Heritage Park is located at 2601 E. Sunnyside Avenue, Salt Lake City. The Pioneer Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on July 23 and 25. Admission prices are $6 adults, $4 children/seniors. Additional screenings of Jane Manning James: Your Sister in the Gospel will be available throughout the year. Call (801) 582-1847 or visit  for more information.