Friday, September 28, 2007

During the time between the Civil War and the Great Depression, dozens of Southern counties banished thriving African-American communities from their midst. This little-known phenomenon typically began with a criminal accusation of a black man and his lynching, followed by the violent eviction of all the black families living in the county - and the subsequent appropriation of their land. Today, these counties remain virtually all white and their victims’ descendants remain uncompensated. Filmmaker and New York University film professor Marco Williams interviewed both white and black residents of three such counties in Georgia, Missouri, and Arkansas for his new documentary, Banished: How Whites Drive Blacks Out of Town in America.

Banished will be playing at Film Forum though October 9.

Marco Williams will take part in a Q&A session
tonight at 8 pm
at Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street.
Call 212-727-8112 for tickets.

Weigh in: How have you been affected by racism?


Marco Williams

Comments [10]

Mike from Manhattan

My previous comment should have begun: My point exactly, even if I wasn't so articulate in my original posting.

Oct. 04 2007 11:01 AM
Mike from Manhattan

Max - My point exactly, if less articulately put. The descendants of the Black people driven off the land in 1912 seek compensation 93 years after the fact. How would their ancestors have responded the year before they were evicted, in 1911, if the Cherokees had demanded compensation 73 years after being driven off the same land?

Oct. 04 2007 10:34 AM
max from New York

Interesting story, and a tragic one, but Mr. William's suggestions of proper reparations was way off base, and IMHO, legally unworkable. No one can pass a law giving the descendant of the former owner of a property, stolen or not ,first dibs on purchase, and then have the public pony up the money if they can't afford it. The story held my interest until then. Not every wrong in history can be recompensed. Where would it end?

Oct. 01 2007 08:32 PM
Mike from Manhattan

Re: JB

"Indians had/have no sense of ownership." With respect to the Cherokees, you are incorrect. Prior to being displaced during the Trail of Tears, the Cherokees of western Georgia were not nomads who dressed in animal skins while hunting and gathering. They had assimilated: They wore pants, shirts & shoes and spoke English. They lived in houses of European design (i.e. heated by stone fireplaces, made of wood, with sloped roofs, etc). They were US citizens. They farmed the land using the same techniques as their white neighbors. They participated in the cash economy. They even owned black slaves, who they took with them. The land stolen from the Black people in 1912 was stolen from the Cherokees only 74 years before.

Sep. 28 2007 04:48 PM
JB from Manhattan (org. Ozarks)

Re: Mike

Yes, great point. All the land in America 'belongs' to the Native Americans; and you are correct that the specific land they were discussing earlier was Cherokee land that was forcefully taken in the Trail of Tears a.k.a. The American Holocaust. The relocation to Oklahoma was set off by an unofficial treaty with a ridiculously small rogue band.

Indians had/have no sense of ownership. The only tribes that survived into modern times were those which were primarily agricultural and tried their best to not fight back. I say give proper financial reparations to anyone who can somewhat prove an ancestor was improperly treated on those lands. Give them money rather than land, so they can have a home somewhere surrounded by tolerant people.

Native American history is the most important issue, yet least taught IN SCHOOLS (especially accurately), that is VITAL to our modern perceptions of land ownership, IMIGRATION, racism, and many other topics.

Sep. 28 2007 02:38 PM
Mike from Manhattan

Perhaps all of this land was stolen from the Native Americans and they are the ones to whom reparations are owed. After all, isn't Forsyth County, northwest Georgia, where Cherokee landowners were expelled from (with their slaves!) in 1838 during the infamous 'Trail of Tears' episode of American history?

Sep. 28 2007 01:24 PM
David from Montclair

Mr. Williams, how much would a reparations fund need to be in order to have effect?

Sep. 28 2007 01:01 PM

Listening to this just gives me a heavy heart.
My mom, originally from Savannah-GA, told me about seeing signs in Georgia that read "Nigger, read and run".

Sep. 28 2007 12:47 PM
Daniel from NYC

While banishment is a good word, wouldn't "Pogrom" be as appropriate? These actions seem to be akin to Nazi's actions in occupied lands: a village liquidated in response to one resistance action.

Sep. 28 2007 12:45 PM

There's a documentary? Awesome! I have to see it! I read "Sundown Towns" by James Loewen. He refers to this period as the "nadir" of race relations and discusses how towns became all white on purpose. Some towns had signs posted at their city limits saying: "Nigger don't let the sun go down on you in [fill-in the town]." Some had a whistle that blew at sundown to let the blacks know it was time to leave.

Contrary to what people would think, most sundown towns were NOT in the South but in the North. Darien, CT is mentioned. At one time it kept out Jews. The movie "Gentlemen's Agreement" was based on it.

Sep. 28 2007 10:00 AM

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