CLAM screens film on early black land trust

02/16/2017

A pair of local documentarians will host a screening next week of their latest film, “The Arc of Justice,” which details the injustices behind the country’s largest black community land trust, which formed during the civil rights movement in Georgia. The Community Land Trust Association of West Marin is presenting the Feb. 24 event, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Dance Palace Community Center. “There isn’t a more important time to lift up the original story about this community land trust, where people had every possible thing against them and then surpassed,” said Kim Thompson, CLAM’s executive director. Directors Helen Cohen and Mark Lipman, who split their time between San Francisco and Point Reyes Station, filmed the 22-minute documentary in 2012 and premiered it at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival last summer. The film focuses on the mistreatment of New Communities, Inc., a land trust that was created by civil rights leaders in 1969 as an attempt to secure economic independence. Members of the land trust cooperatively farmed 6,000 acres in Albany, Ga., but when the trust attempted to build 500 affordable homes on the property, they were stymied by racist opposition. The film traces the plight, which ended with what the filmmakers call the largest civil rights settlement ever, when the United States Department of Agriculture payed an average of $50,000 to thousands of farmers, in 1999. Although CLAM’s efforts to acquire the Coast Guard property in Point Reyes Station and convert it to affordable housing face different obstacles, Mr. Lipman sees a connection. “Here, there is no control over the market forces. In Georgia, there was no control due to structural racism in that society,” he said. “Arc of Justice” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24 at the Dance Community Center. The event is free and a discussion with the filmmakers will follow. Soup provided by the Mainstreet Moms will be served at 6 p.m.