by Quinn Eli, Charlene Gilbert Professor of Film
A photographic essay which offers a striking and moving tribute to African-American farmers. This is the companion book to Gilbert's PBS documentary, HOMECOMING.
Homecoming traces the history of black farmers from Reconstruction to the present, as they struggle to survive today. Homecoming pays tribute not only to the devastating losses they have suffered throughout the century, but also to the legacy of hope that endures in the story of African-Americans working the land.
"Revisiting the unbearable hardships encountered by my great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents as they sought to survive the inhuman sharecropping system of the post-Civil War South—a system in many ways more brutal than slavery—my heart breaks again. But reading Homecoming's account of our ancestors' determined humility, obdurate courage, and fierce pride in and love of the land, my heart is healed. I see why there is such a thing as ancestor worship. I could not love my sharecropping ancestors more if I had created them myself. That black Southerners still love nature and revere the earth is the legacy of a people whose innate elegance and dignity was always expressed in essentials." —Alice Walker
"An extraordinary gift. . . . A moving, lyrical, and important history: a tale of land, labor, love, and loss." —Farah Jasmine Griffin
"Moving, highly informative, and valuable." —Barbara Neely, author of Blanche Cleans Up
This book serves as a companion to author Gilbert's 1998 PBS documentary film of the same name, which she produced and directed. Coauthor Eli has edited two previous books about African Americans. Homecoming relates chronologically the history of black ownership and operation of farms in the southern United States following the Civil War up to present times. There is a particular emphasis on Gilbert's home state of Georgia. The story, one of determination, courage, and hard work, is overall not a happy one, as rural blacks more often than not had to deal with entrenched racism in addition to frequent economic hard times. The story moves smoothly from Reconstruction and its aftermath to World War I, the Depression and New Deal, World War II, the Civil Rights movement, and relations with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is not a detailed history, but Gilbert adds a personal touch by describing the farm lives of several of her ancestors. Thirty black-and-white photographs accompany the text. Homecoming will be of interest to general readers and is also a good choice for African American and rural history collections.--William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Charlene Gilbert, an independent filmmaker and descendent of Georgia farmers, is a professor of film at the State University of New York. Her works have been screened in national and international film and video festivals such as the Women in the Director's Chair Festival, the National Black Arts Festival, the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema, the New England Film and Video Festival, and the New York International Video Festival. She is the recipient of several professional and academic awards including an NEA Artist Fellowship. Her films have been broadcast on public television and screened in a wide variety of venues. In addition to filmmaking, she has taught at Princeton, Temple, Cedar Crest College, and the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia.
Paperback: 240 pages