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Daughters of the Dust

This first American feature by an African American woman to receive general theatrical release was named to the National Film Registry in 2004.

Exploring the Gullah culture of the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia, where African folkways were maintained well into the 20th century, this film, in a new 35mm print, chronicles two very pivotal days in the life of the Peazant family, descendants of slaves brought from Africa to work in the indigo, rice and cotton plantations. Against the wishes of Nana, the family matriarch, the younger Peazants are planning to leave the island to seek a better life on the mainland. Viola Peazant, who has turned her back completely on the African folkways still practiced by Nana, is elated at the family’s decision to “cross over” and migrate to the industrial north. Set against the backdrop of beautiful images of Ibo Landing, the Peazant family’s settlement, Daughters of the Dust centers on a going-away picnic, where Nana implores her family not to forget their family history in their migration north. In Gullah dialect with English subtitles.

Directed by Julie Dash.