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Avenue of Palms

Athena Lark


Former slave and seamstress, Violet Kingsley, returns to the modern world on the eve of the first African-American president of the United States. Violet’s spirit returns while walking down the long dirt road, dubbed the Avenue of Palms, which leads to Kingsley Plantation. She knows her soul is reborn when a car barrels down the road, driven by Kara Evans, a journalist for Essence magazine. This chance encounter will forever tie the two women together as Violet realizes only certain people, things and other spirits can see her physical body.

Violet’s emotions are torn between a life lived over 200 years before and a new world with cars, cell phones, and successful Black people.

Bewildered with modern times, Violet struggles to adapt to what she calls the “new world.” In this world she faces the daily challenges of race not too far removed from her early days on the plantation. Violet tells her story of those early days like an old grandmother sitting in a rocking chair beside you. She recounts those early days struggling to survive the horrors of the Middle Passage. Early years of helping Nat Turner revolt against slavery. Days she wept when her mistress sold her baby girl. Frightful but loving years spent with her husband, freed slave and revolt fighter, Ishmael Carter. Years she spent searching for her family only to find some were closest to her than she ever imagined. Violet recalls those early days of being raped by her white master, George Kingsley and tortured by his African wife, Zola Kingsley. Although treated as the property she is, George loves Violet immensely. It is a love complicated by power, race and the institution of slavery.

In the “new world” where the dynamic of race relations has changed, Violet meets her old friend, Roscoe Jenkins. Roscoe, a spirit himself, returns to the “new world” in search of justice for his cruel death. Living on the plantation for a number of years, as the cook, Roscoe learns the dreadful fate of the modern Black family.

As Kara investigates the genealogy of the slaves that once lived on the plantation she unlocks secrets of Violet’s past and through DNA learns she’s a direct descendent of Violet. With all the new revelations, Violet’s spirit grows old and yearns to return to the spiritual realm. When she leaves the “new world” for the last time her heart is full with knowing her family lives on.

Director and Editor
Dara Van Dusen

Music by
the First Igbo SDA Church Choir

Produced by
Film 14 and Dara Van Dusen

Sound by
David Clarke

Magnus Borge

Aiesha Dukes


Although many books have been written about the times and events of slavery, Athena Lark brings a new perspective by juxtaposing the 1830s with 2009. Moreover, the author introduces an interesting perspective by having a white slave owner married to a black girl.

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Athena Lark

Athena graduated from the University of California at Riverside, where she received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts.

She has been published in the Literary Journals, Gently Read Literature, Hippo Reads and Whistling Fire, the Florida Times Union newspaper, Jacksonville Business Journal, Jacksonville Advocate, the Albany Herald, UNF Spinnaker, and UNF Alumni Magazine.

She is currently writing her memoir, Sailor Girl about her life in the U. S. Navy.

She lives in Houston, TX.