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Promised Land

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Learn About Historical Discrimination

Promised Land looks at the complex issues of South African land reform and racial reconciliation by following two black communities trying to get back land from which they say their ancestors were removed during apartheid. The film raises fundamental questions about determining a fair price for justice for a historical wrong and deciding who must pay it. Learn about the issues in the film and examine the legacy of historical discrimination.

  • Investigate historical land ownership policies in your community. Look at who was prevented from owning land in particular places; the consequences of exclusionary ownership policies on subsequent generations; and possible remedies for the resulting inequities.

    To jumpstart a healing process in the face of historical discrimination:

    1. Uncover and speak the truth about what happened.
    2. Allow those who were disadvantaged to articulate what next steps they would like to see and what it would mean to them to see those things happen.
    3. Think creatively about how those who benefited from discriminatory ownership policies can give something back by doing something affirmative (not just saying something).


  • Convene a study group to examine the history of European colonialism and the legacy, positive and negative, of colonizing Africa. Use what you learn to assess U.S. foreign policy in Africa. Share with your elected representatives what you think that policy should be.

  • Through a school or civic, religious or sister-city organization, establish a correspondence with residents of South Africa. Find out how the stories of other South Africans compare with those of the people featured in the film. Help your dialogue partners obtain a copy of Promised Land and begin an online discussion of everyone's reactions to the film.

  • Host a forum for visiting South African organizers or scholars to share their perspectives on their country's reconciliation process and what others might learn from that process that could apply to their own situations.
 

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

Promised Land looks at the complex issues of South African land reform and racial reconciliation by following two black communities trying to get back land from which they say their ancestors were removed during apartheid. As an outreach tool, the film raises fundamental questions about determining a fair price for justice for a historical wrong and deciding who must pay it. It invites viewers to examine the economic and political fault lines that have made land inequality a “ticking time bomb” that has the potential to destroy the fragile racial compact on which the future of the new South Africa rests.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will participate in a role-playing activity that presents a hypothetical scenario in which the U.S. government seeks to restore Native Americans to their historic homelands by asking current landowners to sell their land and move. The class will then explore how a similar situation is playing out in modern-day South Africa. The lesson features a clip from the film Promised Land, which looks at the complex issues of South African land reform and racial reconciliation by following two black communities trying to reclaim land from which they say their ancestors were removed under apartheid.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This multi-media resource list, compiled by Gina Blume of Monroe Township Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the POV documentary Promised Land. Learn more about apartheid, land reform, reparations and South Africa history.

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