Watch the Full Trailer Here
This trailer spotlights a few of the more than 30 interviews weaving a compelling story of love for family, land, God, and community. Rhythms of the Land brings to life a love story seldom told.
About the Film
AFRICA CAME TO AMERICA
Rhythms of the Land is a valentine to generations of black farmers in the United States from the enslavement period to the present, whose intense love of the land and dedication to community enabled them to survive against overwhelming odds. They struggled from the beginning without support or recognition, and have been written out of the dominant narratives of US agriculture.
In the Summer of 2012, Dr. Myers, drove 10,000 miles in four weeks to cover 10 southern states (South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida) interviewing over 30 African American sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and 3rd to 5th generation farmers.
Each interview represents generations of cultural traditions, family farming, and a farming philosophy that honors land, sustainability, their communities, and unimaginable perseverance despite predatory lending practices and policies levied against them.
Importance of Project
The history of systemic social and racial injustice in the government's discriminatory lending patterns has been prevalent in the agricultural industry and a thorn in the Black farmers' side for more than a century.
For decades working as tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and some full farm owners, Black farmers have struggled for loan equity, access to resources, and the inability to compete in modern agriculture. Yet, they keep farming because they love the land and food traditions.
Despite the middle passage, chattel slavery, discrimination, and elimination from the American agricultural narrative; Black farmers continued to farm and raise livestock in a way that honors land regeneration, the health of the environment, and the people living in and around the community.
Rhythms of the Land will reveal these complex relationships Black farmers have had and the communities that have endured for generations. Hearing their stories will honor these US farmers, sharecroppers, and gardeners and spotlight the connections between biological and cultural diversity connecting us to our roots.
About the Director
Dr. Gail Myers is a cultural anthropologist who earned the Doctorate in Anthropology
from Ohio State University, the Masters in Applied Anthropology from Georgia State University and the Bachelors in English from Florida State University
She is also the Co-founder of Farms to Grow, Inc, and has been advocating for African American farmers for more than 20 years. Dr. Myers began researching African American farmers while at Ohio State University in 1997. Her passion for Black farmers developed as a result of hearing stories of their loss and struggles without recognition for their contributions.
Click the link below to listen to KPFA's interview of Dr. Myers:
A Few People in the Trailer:
- Icefene Thomas, lived until the age of 113, born December 24, 1902, died January 6, 2016.
- Charlie Brown, who can boast of never having suffered a failed crop.
- Deborah Williams, daughter of a Georgia sharecropper, who in 1996 Co-founded "The Mother Clyde Memorial West End Garden", the first Atlanta community garden in a trash-strewn vacant lot, now a thriving urban farm where the community can freely pick fruits and vegetables, to each according to need.
- Alvin Steppe, played an integral part in the historic Pigford v. Glickman litigation moving forward, the class action lawsuit against the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for loan discrimination against Black farmers.
- Russell Prince, Texas aquaponics visionary.
- Shirley Sherrod is a former Georgia State Director of Rural Development of the USDA who was forced to resign her post because of unfair charges of racism, who tells the tragic story of her farming father’s murder by a white farmer that inspired her long career of public service.
- Jery Taylor, basket weaver tells how rice plantations in South Carolina used the basket weaving tradition from West Africa in the “fanner basket. According to Mrs. Jery Taylor, men were the original Baskets weavers when Senegambians was first transported to this country. During the Civil War when the men went to war, then women began making the baskets.
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