Charleston rapper and social justice activist Benny Starr and music producer Rodrick Cliche of hip-hop group Native Son collaborated with the Acres of Ancestry Initiative and Black Agrarian Fund to release a concert film on Juneteenth.
"Restoration: A Concert Film" includes musical performances on the Charleston Music Hall stage and interviews with Black Southern community members about past and ongoing struggles for land justice. Among songs performed are several from Starr's "A Water Album," which explores socioeconomic issues that impact Black people in the Lowcountry, from flooding to gentrification.
Among interviewees are Black farmers who discuss their ancestors' struggles to obtain land in the South, and the connections between land ownership and education, the right to vote, political clout and power. Conversations are also conducted with an attorney, poet and pastor, among others.
Starr raps: "What you gonna do when the water keeps rising? Tell me how you gonna survive it. What you gonna do when the water keeps rising? How you gonna colonize it?"
The hour-long film begins with a quote from Malcolm X: "Land is the basis of all economic security. Land is essential to freedom, justice and equality. Land is essential to true independence."
Later in the film, there is a sound bite from Martin Luther King Jr.
The film premiered exclusively on YouTube and Facebook Live at noon Friday.
The nonprofit Acres of Ancestry Initiative and Black Agrarian Fund is rooted in Black ecocultural traditions and textile arts and promotes custodial land ownership, stewardship and economic development in the South.