2017 Digital Storytelling Contest, Long Form, 1st prize

When the Spirit Moves


Justin Maxon and Jared Moossy

Chester, Pennsylvania, a small town in the United States just south of the city of brotherly love, has a rich history and strong African American heritage that dates back to the 1600's. In the early 1960’s, the town experienced an industrial collapse and the subsequent economic meltdown still affects residents of Chester today. The domino effect of pervasive socio-economic issues and a long history of government corruption have revealed a microcosm of the structural inequalities that plague American society.

In the 1980's, the local governmental bodies around Chester redrew the zoning maps, effectively excluding the city from the surrounding affluent, predominately white, school districts. This exclusivity forced countless budget cuts causing seven educational bodies to close in Chester since 2000. In 2013, the school district's graduation rate was 56 percent, a stark contrast to the national average. This predominantly African American populated city, where education is not adequately available, has a murder rate 18 times the national average. While Chester has one of the nation’s highest homicide rates, it has a far lower-than-average clearance rate. Chester has become a place where you can get away with murder.

This project explores the parallels between a lack of education for youth and the ever-rising crime rate in Chester. It is determined to disprove the popular perception of Chester. This is not a forgotten town. These lives are not expendable and Chester is not a place where you can get away with murder.

Production team