The documentary, "I'm Just a Layman in Pursuit of Justice: Black Farmers Fight Against USDA," has had some significant successes over the past few months, and for them, we are grateful and deeply honored and moved by the support that the film has garnered. Between 1997 and 1999, fifteen Black farmers went to battle as David versus Goliath, taking on the monstrous US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice.
The list of festivals and honors includes the following: Denton Black Film Festival (People's Choice Award, Honorable Mention Best Documentary); Seattle Black Film Festival, Impact Awards, La Jolla (Award of Recognition); Twin Cities Black Film Festival; Whistleblowers Summit and Film Festival (Semi-Finalist, Impact Award); Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival; and Ag & Art Festival, Vacaville, CA.
At each festival, attendees, whether virtual or on the premises, got to hear and see the impact of systemic racism on the lives of Black farmers and families. It is a hard documentary to watch, and it was a difficult documentary to make. Shoun and I listened to stories of pain and suffering. We saw the tears streaming down the faces of men and women. Knowing that employees of the "people's department" had turned it into the "last plantation" for these farmers. Here is the trailer which gives you some sense of the film.
Lawrence Lucas, President Emeritus of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, has been a strong supporter of the documentary. He has shown the trailer on several occasions including Harold Bell's Black Men in America broadcast. Recently, Lawrence spoke to the California Reparations Task Force. Here are his spoken words in which he includes the trailer. Look for Lawrence at the 15:20 mark. He also showed the trailer at a recent conference, The International Conference On Stolen Black Land, Desecrated Burial Grounds and Healing from MAAFA. Here is his presentation at the conference. You can find him at the 2:41:40 mark. You will find him to be informed, engaging, and provocative in his presentations.
Several opportunities have presented themselves to us over the last year. Shoun discussed the film and it was shown before the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, an association birthed in 2015 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Shoun and I both were interviewed by Dr. Linda Mann of the African American Redress Network. Then, in conjunction with the Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival, we were interviewed, along with Adrienne Grant Taylor, by Director Kara Walker.
Shoun premiered the film and dialogued with students from Morgan State University. I was honored to show the film and discuss it as part of the Mississippi Delta Experience with a number of students and others affiliated with the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action at Abilene Christian University. Here is the documentary in which the documentary was situated.
Also, during the past few months, I was also interviewed by my church around the theme of the diversity of the church. Here is a brief video of that interview. It provides some of the personal background for Charla and me and the making of the film.
We have no idea how 2022 will roll out; however, I am pleased that we are in conversation with Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas to show the film and discuss it as part of Black History Month.
If you have an interest in engaging Shoun and/or me, the documentary's webpage will give you contact information.
We are grateful that people are being moved, oftentimes to tears, as the farmers and their loved ones share the stories in an up close and personal way. This is not a short term venture for us. It is a life time effort. We will not rest until Black farmers experience the same benefits under policies within the USDA as any white farmer.