Saturday, September 30, 2023
HomeentertainmentMovie News'Lownds County and the Black Power Trail' review: Sam Pollard and Geeta...

'Lownds County and the Black Power Trail' review: Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir grippingly trace the roots of black suffrage

As Election Day approaches in the US, a suspicious pattern emerges. Leaders of rival parties have embarked on a begging campaign, urging black voters to go to the polls and cast their votes for candidates who typically have little interest in their needs. The officials appealed to the morality of the historically disenfranchised masses, insisting that a country that typically doesn’t care about them cannot save itself without their votes. Displays of hypocrisy drained the earnestness of the vote, made it easy to take the long and checkered history of the black suffrage movement for granted, and confuse existing barriers to true freedom.

Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power by Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI) and Geeta Gandbhir (I Am Evidence), a timely reminder of voting rights in America and an inspiring testament to the power of community organizing. The film documents how residents of Lowndes County, a violently segregated part of Georgia, secured their right to vote and sought to change conditions in their racist district. Inspired in part by journalist Vann R. Newkirk II in The Atlantic

Covering , Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power riveting story of self-determination. Lowndes County and the Black Power Trail

The Bottom Line Convincing collective organizing power remind.

Release date:
Friday, December 2 4060167

Geeta Gambier, Sam Pollard 1 hour30 minute

It is fitting that Pollard and Gandbhir begin their documentary with the words of civil rights activist Ella Baker, Ella Baker is a woman who was instrumental in organizing the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Baker had a clear belief in black self-determination and prioritized the potential of the working class over charismatic leadership. “When people value what they can do,” she says in an archival clip that plays at the beginning of the film, “they don’t have to hunt around and find a great leader to do it for them.”

Blacks at Lowndes never wait for permission. Inspired by one of their own – young John Hulett at 80 Back in Lowndes to take care of family After years of working with the NAACP in Birmingham, community members decided to register to vote. Early that year, nearly a century after the 30th Amendment granted to all men Voting power exceeds 15 years The First Amendment gave women a chance, and the county had zero registered black voters. This number is staggering considering that blacks make up 15% of the district’s population.

To understand the extent of this disenfranchisement, Lowndes County and Pathways to Black Power used the testimony of Lowndes local black and white Come to build a far-reaching portrait of a deeply divided community. Blacks like John Jackson, Arthur Nelson, and Katherine Coleman Flowers recalled their families living and working on land owned by wealthy white residents, to whom they were forever in debt. They discussed the entrenched caste system, poverty, and how the county’s reputation for violence earned it the name Bloody Lowndes. Contrast this with the language used by white locals like Caroline Heigler Ikenberry or Margaret Davis, who described their county as “peaceful” and “idyllic,” And don’t remember growing up talking about race, and you have a picture of America — both then and now.

Interwoven with archival footage from editor Viridiana Lieberman, interviews force viewers to connect the dots and see how one place generates competing realities. It’s not hard to imagine, then, why Black residents of Lowndes County encountered unusual, even violent resistance when attempting to exercise their right to vote. Historians Hasan Kwame Jeffries and William Sturkley provide more context on the intimidation tactics used by white racists—from stalking to professional revenge—to not only prevent blacks from voting, but also prevent other whites from helping them.

This did not deter the Black residents of Lowndes, who in late March 40 organized and founded the Lowndes County Christian Human Rights Movement. They meet every Wednesday night to discuss their suffrage plans and express dissatisfaction with the town’s political and social structure. The Lowndes resident only sought outside counsel after forming his own group.

The document complicates the prevailing narrative about the harmonious civil rights movement by revealing the shunning of its most popular leaders. As Jeffries explained, black residents turned to SCLC for guidance, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. avoided establishing a presence at Lowndes because of his reputation. Help was provided by Kwame Ture (then known as Stokely Carmichael) and other SNCC activists who, while marching from Selma to Montgomery, decided to stop in Lowndes (one of the counties along the way) and help black people register to vote.

SNCC’s involvement furthers the active Lowndes movement, but its introduction to the narrative risks undermining the documentary’s intimacy. The context needed to explain SNCC and Ella Baker’s role in the organization, discussing True and his comrades means there is more than one tangent to Lowndes County and the Path to Black Power . For the most part, they’re informative, but digressions combined with erratic timeline jumps mean viewers have to work harder to catch the film’s main and most intriguing clues. After all, it is the struggles within Lowndes — between black and white community members — and organizational efforts that are most inspiring.

The language used in the interviews by the surviving white participants echoes strikingly with language describing contemporary uprisings and liberation struggles. Ikenberry and Davis spoke of the ghostly “outside agitators,” a phrase viewers will remember repeatedly used by elected officials and news pundits to describe demonstrations in American cities
. What do these patterns reveal about the distance between our past and our present?

The present of Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power, written and partially developed by writer and producer Dema Paxton Fofang, is how it Position voting rights as the beginning of the struggle, not the end—a lesson that has been forgotten in the din of electoral politics today. Once Black Lowndes residents were able to vote, they organized to get people from the community to hold elected office within the county. It has been incredible to watch SNCC and the Lowndes County Christian Human Rights Movement deploy strategies to help their communities. When the state Democrats refused to recognize their candidate, they created their own political party, Lowndes County Freedom, and their logo—a black panther. (They have an exciting historical connection to the Oakland-based Black Panther Party, which is briefly outlined in the film.) As people within the community struggled to make sense of the different official positions, the groups created comic books and magazines to help Help explain their purpose and what each job requires. Every perceived obstacle was met with an innovative solution – proof that organizing your neighbors can unleash creativity.

While the surviving Black residents of Lowndes speak proudly of their accomplishments (many were moved to tears by their progress), Lowndes County and the path to Black Power The road

did not end on a happy note. Its conclusion brings the audience to Lowndes today, which has not sustained many of the earlier changes due to systemic white supremacy. But taking stock of the county’s history and recognizing that it was individuals within the community who brought about this change, and above all, should be heartening action. Full credits

Publisher: Greenwich Entertainment, Peacock

Production company: Multititude Films, Participant, Postworks New York

Directors: Geeta Gambier, Sam Pollard

Screenwriters: Dema Paxton Fofang, Vann R. Newkirk II (inspired by writing)

Producers: Anya Rous, Jessica Devaney

Executive Producer: Jeff Skoll , Diane Weyermann, Fred Grinstein, Linzee Troubh

Director of Photography: Henry Adebonojo

Editor: Viridiana Lieberman

Composer: Kathryn Bostic

File Producer: Lizzie McGlynn

1 hour 30 minutes

THR Newsletter

Sign up for THR news daily straight to your inbox

594742 Subscribe Sign up



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Featured NEWS