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Virtual Film Screening & Conversation:
Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek
In a time when we’ve come to question what it means to hope, the award-winning film Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek tells a story of the resilience and determination in a community faced with insurmountable odds.
Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, 7 p.m.
- Pay-As-You-Wish: $5 or greater
About the Event
In a time when we’ve come to question what it means to hope, the award-winning film Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek tells a story of the resilience and determination in a community faced with insurmountable odds. This intimate documentary film touches on the unjust impact of climate change on a historically Black community, and how race, power, and so-called progress become factors in the language of oppression still omnipresent at the intersections of culture and survival.
A moderated discussion following the film will touch on remediation, both in the context of environmentalism and Black connections to nature, as well as the impact of environmental racism and how to work together in the fight toward futurity and possible healing. The conversation will be moderated by Beth Collier, founder and director of Wild in the City, an organization supporting the well-being of people of color through connection with nature, offering experiences in woodland living skills, natural history, hiking and ecotherapy. This program is in conjunction with the exhibition Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes.
About the film
Descendants of emancipated slaves who settled on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the residents of Turkey Creek have been stewards of the creek’s rich wetland habitat for generations. Today, the town is surrounded by an airport, big-box stores, highways, and an industrial canal, which threatens both the community and its wetlands. When the graves of Derrick Evans’s ancestors are bulldozed for the sprawling city of Gulfport, the Boston teacher returns home to stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians alongside his neighbors over the course of a decade.
Filmed in an intimate verité style, the story begins when Evans returns to Mississippi for the holidays in December 2001. He and filmmaker Leah Mahan—a friend from Boston—have made the trip to record oral history, but a visit to the community cemetery changes the course of Evans’s life. Joining protestors against a mayor who called them “dumb bastards” for standing in the way of progress, Evans takes the fight to Congress and across the country, advocating for a sustainable future for the Gulf Coast.
His work pays off when Turkey Creek is added to the National Register of Historic Places and the federal government moves to support a 1,600-acre natural preserve. But on the day these milestones are celebrated, Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill mark new threats to Turkey Creek’s tidal estuary and the entire Gulf Coast.
About the participants
Derrick Evans is an environmental trailblazer, community builder, and activist who has spoken around the world. Evans is featured in the documentary film, Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek as he fights to save his historic Turkey Creek community from erasure. He is a civil rights historian and a sixth-generation native of coastal Mississippi’s Turkey Creek, founded by emancipated African Americans, where he now lives.
Fred Tutman is one of the longest serving riverkeepers in the Chesapeake region and the only African American riverkeeper in the United States. He is a grassroots community advocate for clean water in Maryland’s longest and deepest intrastate waterway. He holds the title of Patuxent Riverkeeper, which is also the name of the organization that he founded in 2004. He was recently featured in the national magazine, Waterkeepers, and explained that, “In some ways, Patuxent Riverkeeper is a cross-cultural bridge between the have and the have-nots in this watershed, ﬁghting some of the most controversial battles and, frankly, the hardest to fund.”