Banished

From the 1860s to the 1920s, towns across the U.S. expelled African American residents. Today, these communities remain virtually all white.

Banished 01
Series
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
February 19, 2008
Length
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2007 Miami International Film Festival -Grand Jury Prize
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2009 Organization of American Historians-Erik Barnouw Award
  • Williams marco filmmaker bio
    Director

    Marco Williams

    Marco Williams is an award-winning documentary and nominated fiction film director. His directing credits include Freedom Summer (2006), I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (2004), MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream (2003), Two Towns of Jasper (2002), Making Peace; Rebuilding our Communities (1995), The Pursuit of Happiness: With Arianna Huffington Show more (1994), Without A Pass (1992), In Search of Our Fathers (1991), and From Harlem To Harvard (1982). His film awards include the Beacon Award, the National Association of Black Journalists First Place Salute to Excellence Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, the Alfred I duPont Silver Baton, the 2002 Pan African Film Festival Outstanding Documentary Award, the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival Silver Award for Best International Documentary, the 2002 DoubleTake/Full Frame grand prize, the Center For Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award and the Independent Feature Project Third Annual Anthony Radziwill Documentary Achievement Award. Two Towns of Jasper was broadcast on P.OV.In Search of Our Fathers was broadcast on Frontline and featured in the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1996 “Black Male Exhibition” and the 1993 Whitney Biennial, among others. Williams received a B.A. from Harvard University in Visual and Environmental Studies, a M.A. from UCLA in Afro-American Studies and a M.F.A. from UCLA’s Producer’s Program. He is the recipient of the Institute of American Cultures Research Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a Creative Artists Program grant. Show less

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    The Film

    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.

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