"Banished talks about a few injustices out of tens of thousands. It's about how whites killed and ran blacks out of town and stole their land. The question of how reparations should be given is asked but that question they say is unanswerable; why? Yet the Jews are constantly given reparations for Hitler's genocide. Who put a dollar amount on their suffering? To this day the whites in this documentary refuse to do the right thing." - Xavier James
Banished vividly recounts the forgotten history of racial cleansing in America when thousands of African Americas were driven from their homes and communities by violent racist mobs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fear for their lives, black people left these towns and never returned to reclaim their property. The film places these events in the context of present day race relations, by following three concrete cases of towns that remain all-white to this day (Forsyth County, Georgia; Pierce City, Missouri; Harrison, Arkansas).
Banished raises the larger questions -- will the United States ever make meaningful reparations for the human rights abuses suffered, then and now, against its African American citizens? Can reconciliation between the races be possible without them? Banished follows a twisting trail through yellowed newspaper archives registries of deeds, photos from treasured family albums and dimly recalled stories of elders who lived through those traumatic events.
The film features black families determined to go to any length to reconstruct their families past and gain some justice for their ancestors and themselves. It also interviews dedicated, local, newspaper reporters who braved community opposition to research the banishments in-depth and force their readers to confront their towns past and present.