This project was so much bigger than any individual. This is about the great legacy of Five Points.

We Are Not The Story Tellers

Qualitative Researcher: Michael Bird

Editor: Quentin Holleman

Production: Birdhaus Media

This project began as a small documentary looking at the intimate jazz history of Five Points.  As the community opened their hearts and their homes to me, I realized that the promoted story of Five Points as a jazz mecca, overshadowed the true greatness of the story.  This is a community that can show us how to live as community. That became my guiding mission.  To preserve underrepresented stories of community as told by those that lived the story.


We are not the story tellers.  You are.


To honor the request by the community to tell their own story.


A Sense of Self _ Growing Up in Five Points is being given out to the community for free and used in colleges to teach museum studies programs.

How did you choose which stories to include?


The stories included were representative of the 60 hours of interviews with individuals from the community. Though a Qualitative process called "coding", we looked for themes, or subjects, that emerged from the interviews. Our goals is to accurately represent the stories this community wished to share.

Why let the subject inform and craft their own image?


An important concept in anthropology is called "agency". Agency views human beings as active participants in the world they interact with,  and co-create, as individuals.

The dynamic of agency is that individual life and learning experiences are variable. So, communities do not speak with one voice, but as a chorus, not always on the same key or voice.

How did this project come about?


Charleszine Nelson made a request for the community; "Many people have come in to tell our story. We'd like to tell our own story."


With that one request, I began what would be one of the most rewarding and monumental undertakings of my life.  It entailed me going to graduate school to complete a M.A. in Qualitative Research, become a visual anthropologist, and develop a single minded focus to honor the request of the community to narrate their own story.

No music or photographs?


Anthropologists recognize that the majority, up to 70%, of our understanding of context and meaning derives from visual cue's, facial expressions, and inflection.


For your enjoyment, there is a long sideshow of photographs included in the DVD.


Music is a feature intended to evoke an emotional response.  This project has a very different goal, not to lead the viewer towards a desired response, but, to honor the story tellers by not trying to influence the viewer.

Special Appreciation


There are so many individuals that contributed to this project.  First and foremost, the Five Points community that agreed to open their homes, their hearts and share their stories to make this project possible. Additionally, of special note, I wish to thank:



Mrs. Charlszine Nelson - Blair Caldwell African American Research Library.


Coi Drummond - Denver Public Library


Dr. Anthony Young - Black American West Museum


Ms. Clementine Pigford - Zion Baptist Church


Nik Ridley - Black American West Museum


Purnell Steen - Five Points Historian/ and musician


Charles Burrell - legend, and friend


Duncan McCloud and the Burnins McCloud Estate


John and Edna Mosley Estate


Elvin Caldwell and the Caldwell Estate


Thelma Gash, Lee Katherine Gash, and Estate


Otha Rice and Estate


Harriet Butcher and Estate


George Morrison, Jr. and George Morrison Estate


Leroy Smith Jr. and The Smith Estate


Marie Greenwood


Gayle Hamlet Ph.D.


Darrell Anderson


Carl Bourgeois


Professor Theodoric Manley Ph.D.


Professor Jacquelyn Benton Ph.D.


Vincent Harding Ph.D.


Brother Jeff - Community Organizer




Please consider donating any photographs to the Denver Public Library, the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library,  Paul Stewart's Black American West Museum, and History Colorado Museum


Your help can assure that every community can preserve the small stories and the large lessons which can guide us all.


Photographs used with permission by:

Black American West Museum, Denver Public Library, Blair Caldwell African American Research Library, Zion Baptist Church, and the Estates of Marie Greenwood, Burnis McCloud, Otha Rice, Elvin Caldwell, Leroy Smith, John and Edna Mosley, George Morrison,

Harriet Butcher, Charles Burrell

Burnis McCloud can rightfully be called "The" Five Points photographer.  The clubs, the organizations, events such as weddings and funerals, and daily life, Mr. McCloud was there with his impeccable eye to record the moment.  Not enough can be said about his contribution to the history of Five Points.

All content © Birdhaus Media 2016. All rights reserved.