Emmy Award-winning film and television director Mustapha Khan, a Brooklyn College associate professor of film, has produced and directed a historical audio drama chronicling the Lemmon Slave Case, which resulted in the most unyielding statement made against slavery by any court in the U.S. before the Civil War.

The hybrid audio drama event, How Emeline Got Free: An Untold Story of History, chronicles the eight-year journey that began when a New York trial court helped to free eight enslaved young women and children who sailed into New York Harbor with their enslavers from Virginia. The case reached the New York Court of Appeals, whose ruling was in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision in 1857.

Based on the book, The Eight: The Lemmon Slave Case and The Fight for Freedom written by Albert M. Rosenblatt, a special event was held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on May 21 attended by approximately 150 people. A livestream presented by the Historical Society of the New York Courts, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture drew a few hundred more.

“In reading the many historical accounts of the Lemmon Slave Case, I was struck by how this remarkable story was never told from the perspective of the eight human beings whose very freedom was at stake at the trial,” said Khan. “How Emeline Got Free seeks to remedy this injustice, by putting us in the shoes of the young leader of her family as she tries to navigate their way to freedom.”

The presentation was followed by a discussion with Khan, his co-writer and Columbia University screenwriting professor Trey Ellis, and retired Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt. It was moderated by Dianne T. Renwick, vice chair of the society’s board of trustees and presiding justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, of the New York State Supreme Court.