Release Date: 2006
Website: PBS Website
Banished is a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Marco Williams that premiered on Independent Lens (PBS) in February 2008. In collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting and Two Tone Productions, Working Films directed a two-year campaign with rich opportunities to use the film (1) in redressing the loss of land in African-American communities, and (2) as a resource for collaborative efforts aimed at helping communities invested in finding common and substantive ground for reconciliation of past harms stemming from race-based violence.
The outreach campaign was made up of three primary components:
1. Promoting exploration of the film's themes and issues in trainings and workshops sponsored by social justice and faith-based organizations;
2. Providing opportunities for community-based organizations to sign up online to host community screening events; and
3. Supporting peer-to-peer, campus-based outreach campaigns centered on the film.
Along with eight campus and community partners, Working Films coordinated strategic screenings, panel discussions, and workshops to address the issues in the film towards advancing reconciliation and justice.
A hundred years ago, in communities across the U.S., white residents forced thousands of black families to flee their homes. Even a century later, these towns remain almost entirely white. Banished tells the story of three of these communities and their black descendants, who return to learn their shocking histories.
In Forsyth County, Georgia, where a thousand black residents were expelled, the film explores the question of land fraudulently taken, and follows some descendants in their quest to uncover the real story of their family's land. In Pierce City, Missouri, a man has designed his own creative form of reparation-he wishes to disinter the remains of his great-grandfather, who was buried there before the banishment. And in Harrison, Arkansas, home to the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, a white community struggles with their town's legacy of hate.
By investigating this little-known chapter in American history, Banished also takes a contemporary look at the legacy of racial cleansing. Through conversations with current residents and the descendants of those who were driven out, the film contemplates questions of privilege, responsibility, denial, healing, reparations and identity.
What can be done to redress past injustices? What is the ongoing impact of the expulsions on families and communities today? In the stories of black families whose land and livelihood were stolen, the film illustrates the limits of the American legal system and the need for creative forms of repair. By introducing these families and the white communities who forced them out, Banished raises the question of responsibility for past wrongs and what is involved in righting them.