New Hulu Doc Tells the Story of One of America’s Oldest Black Boarding Schools


February 29, 2024

The Piney Woods School, the largest and second-oldest Black boarding school in the country, has been around for 115 years!

Hulu‘s latest documentary, Sacred Soil: The Piney Woods School Story, unfolds against the backdrop of [one of] America’s oldest Black boarding schools. The film, now available for streaming on Hulu and Disney+, provides a window into all of the layers of the school and the remarkable stories of its students.

According to the film’s Hulu profile, Sacred Soil is not just a documentary; it is a poignant exploration of the emotional, physical, and mental challenges faced by young, Black individuals in pursuit of education in America. The film beautifully captures the perspectives of the students themselves, offering an authentic portrayal of their journey within the school’s historical context.

The documentary is directed by Jharae “J.J.” Jordan-Anderson, a filmmaker hailing from San Diego, CA.
As shared on her website, Jordan-Anderson’s love for storytelling was ignited during her childhood while sitting in her parents’ respective support group meetings. Focused on creating strong representations of Black and Brown youth and people of color in the media, much of her work explores elements of culture, community, and generational practices.


Jordan-Anderson’s Black curatorial-focused project, Positive Space, gained recognition from Shonda Rhimes’ digital platform, Shondaland, and is now available for streaming. Her work extends to a sentimental spot celebrating the C.R.O.W.N Act titled Own Your Crown, spotlighted by outlets like Good Morning America and Adweek. Accepted into ARRAY’s inaugural Film Fellowship in October 2021, Jordan-Anderson directed Home / Free in collaboration with Slack, now streaming on Amazon and starring John Legend. The film sheds light on the reentry barriers faced by formerly incarcerated individuals.

Sacred Soil features an impressive lineup of executive producers, including Andscape’s Kelley L. Carter, Marc Jordan, Jason Aidoo, and Anderson, The Playlist reports. Produced by State of the Art’s Mecia Hollar and Laura Avila Tacsan, the documentary debuted on Hulu on February 23.

According to The Playlist, Anderson shared in a statement, “I am honored to be partnering with Andscape to bring ‘Sacred Soil: The Piney Woods School Story’ to audiences. From the illuminating experiences shared by the historical institution’s young voices to the devoted labor put forth by crew members— this film is a heartfelt testimony of love, community, and culture. We are overjoyed to share it with the world.”


Cover photo: Piney Woods students pose during Sacred Soil press day / Credit: Piney Woods via Facebook

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