Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Trouble Behind

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $250.00 Home use: $89.00
  • Date: Copyright 1990. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: United States - History - 20th century. Kentucky - History. Blacks - History. Racism.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer, Stills. Produced by Robbie Henson. Color. 56 min.
  • Production Company: Cicada Films
  • Available from: California Newsreel 149 9th St., #420 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415)621-6196
  • Cataloging: 305.8 Racism - United States||United States - Race relations
  • Awards: American Film & Video Festival Red Ribbon, 1990.
  • Print Entry #: 2:81
  • Reviewer: Ron Gorsegner

    In 1919, there were 28 major race riots in the United States. This program examines one of these riots, which took place in Corbin, Kentucky, in October of that year; it also examines the roots of racism's subtle - and sometimes not so subtle - manifestations in Corbin today.

    During World War I, 200 black sharecroppers migrated to Corbin to fill jobs on the railroad left vacant by whites who were serving in the armed forces. When the whites returned, they "found their close-knit community changed." Although the reasons that were offered differ, on 31 October 1919 black workers in that community were rounded up by an armed mob, many were beaten, and all were locked into boxcars and "railroaded" out of town. The event is covered in this video by the testimony of eyewitnesses and scholars, news photos, and articles. Clips from the film The Birth of a Nation help to place the event in a historical context; the production also highlights the other race riots of 1919, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Jim Crow laws that reversed the gains of post-Civil War Reconstruction.

    The town of Corbin today has a "whites only" reputation. Indeed, there is only one black family living there. Black residents of nearby towns fear being caught in Corbin after dark. An elderly white woman who is interviewed insists she's not a racist, but she qualifies her statement by saying she doesn't like blacks that act "high and mighty." The most disturbing scene in this video shows a group of teenagers, apparently high on some substance, openly declaring their dislike of blacks. The viewer must decide if they're mugging for the camera or are sincere in their comments; one suspects and fears the latter. In any event, the program shows the manifestation of racism as being much more subtle than simply wearing sheets.

    About midway through the program there is a brief, bad editing flaw that one hopes has been corrected in the final version. Other than that, the program is very well crafted. The oral histories are well integrated with the historical film footage and still photos. Color and sound are excellent; even the obviously old recording of Jimmy Rodgers singing "Freight Train Blues," used in the soundtrack, seems to have been cleaned up to eliminate popping and hissing. This is an extremely well-done documentary and could be used in American and African-American history classes, perhaps during a Black History month; it would be an effective part of any program that seeks to show that racism is still alive and festering. Recommended for all libraries.

    Copyright ABC-CLIO. Included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

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