In 1920, there were over 920,000 Black families farming in the United States, although the majority were sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Today there are just over 48,697, a 95% decrease in 100 years. Black farming families have lost their land and their stories are quickly disappearing and should be preserved so that we may understand the history and nature of lives on the farms.
Dr. Gail P. Myers created this documentary to preserve their stories and honor their lives and agrarian legacies. On May 5, the coalition of sustainable agriculture and food system centers – INFAS – is hosting an on-line screening and a discussion with Dr. Myers following the film. Registration is required. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSccYm_DTe0RFq0Eb3Xk91sEGdzipwgoiCH4SLDdkn1xRYpbdA/viewform?pli=1
Dr. Myers is also is also the Co-founder of Farms to Grow, Inc., and has been advocating for African America farmers for more than 20 years. Farms to Grow, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to working with Black farmers and underserved sustainable farmers around the country. Farms To Grow, Inc. is committed to sustainable farming and innovative agriculture practices which preserve the cultural and biological diversity, the agroecological balance of the local environment.
I am Gail Myers, a cultural anthropologist and creator of the film project, Rhythms of the Land. In 1997, while pursuing my doctorate at The Ohio State University, I conducted my first interviews with African American farmers. For the last 23 years I have been interviewing, researching, writing about, and filming the stories of African American farmers. During the summer of 2012, I toured 10 southern states — Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee — interviewing over 30 farmers, sharecroppers, and gardeners and a 5th generation coil basket weaver. Several of these interviews are with elders, 98, 92, and 109. Suffice it to say, the wisdom and personalities of the elders farmers are infectious. These interviews represent generations of cultural traditions of Black farming philosophy that honors land, sustainability, God, family and love for their community. Rhythms of the Land documentary fills the void of these missing agrarian narratives and honors these sharecroppers, farmers, and gardeners.
For more information on the film, go to www.rhythmsoftheland.com