Gilbert, an independent filmmaker, began a personal documentary film of her family's farming roots and ended by documenting the historical importance of land and farming for African Americans. Through photographs, historic accounts, and current-day recollections, Gilbert and Eli trace the history of the connection between former slaves and their desire for land ownership to the unfulfilled promise of 40 acres and a mule during Reconstruction. By 1890, the corrupt system of sharecropping was so pervasive that 90 percent of black farmers were sharecroppers. Farming figured as a major element in the historic debate between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois about whether black people should stay and farm the land or challenge discrimination and move into new arenas. Eli and Gilbert connect the continuing struggle for black farmers to acquire and hold onto farmland to the recent Supreme Court decision granting them restitution from discriminatory banking practices. This book, a companion to the PBS documentary of the same name, is an important tribute to the significance of land to a people who had worked it as slaves. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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tells a distressing story but delivers an uplifting message. --Jim Hightower
"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