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African-American Documentary Films on DVD in the Leavey Library: Economic Issues

Economic Conditions

All the Difference
"Filmed over five and a half years, All the Difference weaves together the stories of two tough, yet promising young black men as they navigate their lives in broken homes and low-income, high-risk communities in Chicago. Statistics predict they will drop out of high school and succumb to life on the streets; but both graduate and go on to college in spite of all the odds. After they graduate, the film follows them for another 6 months as they both find meaningful work in community service. The film explores the factors in their lives (education, parents and grandparents, teachers, role models, personal drive and community support) that made All the Difference in helping them be the first in their families to most likely escape poverty and secure a place in the middle class"

Arc of Justice: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of a Beloved Community
"Traces the remarkable journey of New Communities, Inc. and the struggle for racial justice and economic empowerment among African Americans in southwest Georgia. NCI was created in 1969 in Albany, Georgia by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Congressman John Lewis, and Charles and Shirley Sherrod, to help secure economic independence for African American families. For 15 years, NCI cooperatively farmed nearly 6,000 acres, the largest tract of land in the United States owned by African Americans at the time, but racist opposition prevented them from implementing plans to build 500 affordable homes as part of their community land trust. Unable to secure government loans to cope with the impact of successive years of drought, NCI lost the land to foreclosure in 1985. But 25 years later it was given new life as a result of a successful and little-known class action lawsuit brought by hundreds of African American farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for loan discrimination. With the settlement, the original founders purchased a 1,600-acre plantation once owned by the largest slave owner and richest man in Georgia. NCI is now growing pecans and using the antebellum mansion on the property as a retreat and training center, still committed to its original mission of promoting racial justice and economic development."

Homecoming: Sometimes I Am Haunted by Memories of Red Dirt and Clay
"A documentary film exploring the history of ownership of farm lands by African Americans from Reconstruction to the present day. Their struggle for land of their own pitted them against both the Southern white power structure and the federal agencies responsible for helping them. As part of Reconstruction, Congress alloted 45 million acres of land to former slaves but little land was ever actually distributed. Despite formidable obstacles one million African Americans, mostly former sharecroppers, managed to purchase over 15 million acres of land by 1910."

Oh Freedom After While
"In January 1939, Missouri Bootheel sharecroppers--black and white--staged a dramatic roadside protest to protest unjust treatment by local plantation owners. Their demonstration spurred the U.S. government to develop new housing for displaced sharecroppers. Some demonstrators also established a remarkable farming community--and learned how to make lasting change in their lives." -- Container

Standing Tall
"Working in noisy and wet factories for minimum wage, without any benefits, bathroom breaks, or recourse if mistreated, a few women working at Delta Pride Catfish worked together to organize a United Food and Commercial Workers local 1529 at their plant."

William Julius Wilson: Solving Black Inner-City Poverty
"The poorest neighborhood in the U.S. is not an isolated southern mountain hollow or a Midwestern farm county blasted by drought, but a four-block stretch of public housing on the South Side of Chicago. Most of the residents are black, on welfare, and living in dysfunctional families. But as woebegone as that neighborhood is, the pattern is repeated on block after block in city after city. The problems of our inner cities have been growing worse with each year; some policymakers and scholars question whether these problems can ever be solved. In this program with Bill Moyers, Dr. William Julius Wilson, author and sociologist, argues that the time to throw up our hands in despair has not yet arrived; he believes that most inner-city blacks stay poor not because they are black, but because they live in the wasteland of the inner city."