Amazon Prime’s latest documentary “Silver Dollar Road” is now available. The documentary focuses on the issue of Black land ownership. The story revolves around an Afro-American Reels family and their descendants trying to protect their estate from property developers and going to a legal battle.
About “Silver Dollar Road”:
The land was purchased by Elijah Reels (one of the ancestors of the family) after the abolishment of slavery. According to Raoul Peck, the director of “Silver Dollar Road”, the repercussion of the event still exists today. He added the status of wealth distribution is very uneven without questioning the history. It is not justified if Black families are deprived of their land and property just to accumulate a very small amount of wealth.
The documentary is based on Lizzie Presser’s ProPublica article ‘Kicked Off The Land’. Lizzie documented Afro-American’s problems in the society for many years. It is necessary to mention, Lizzie offered Raoul Peck to make a film on the story.
Why Is “Silver Dollar Road” Important to Reels Family?
The 65-acre stretch of marshland known as Silver Dollar Road has become very valuable to the Reels family since Elijah and Mitchell Reels purchased it in 1944. The land was their primary source of income. The land gave them an opportunity to grow fish and cultivate many other crops. Silver Dollar Road also became a haven for other Black families for summer fun in the South.
What Happens Next?
Till 2000, the Reels family thrived on the land and 95-year-old Gertrude Reels expected that the land would always belong to the Reels family. During that time, a local development took possession of the land, and the domino effect of legal troubles resulted in the imprisonment of Melvin and LiCurtis Reels.
Such incidents are not unique because, throughout the 20th century, Black farmers, families, and landowners have lost over 90% of their land as the court didn’t recognize their legal heirs. Silver Dollar Road not only recognized the members of Reels family and showed their struggle but also sent a message to the world about how Black people are deprived of their property.