Silver Dollar Road review: Bleak look at black land loss in America

Silver Dollar Road sheds light on the prejudiced ways the legal system stays contentious of Black land ownership in America. The documentary is currently streaming on Prime Video.


The documentary follows the Reels family who bought a nice waterfront land in North Carolina a generation after slavery. After the death of the patriarch in the 70’s, it was declared heirs property.

One of the relatives would later claim ownership of the seashore part of the property and later sell his share to Adams Creek Associates.

The company would engage in a battle with the family that it would have to contend with for decades and decades. Eventually, Uncle Licurtis and Uncle Melvin would be sent to jail for not moving out of the land that rightfully belonged to them.

They would serve an egregiously long sentence of eight years — the longest one for civil contempt in North Carolina’s history.

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Silver Dollar Road is hard to watch at times and all the better for it. It’s important and dire to shed light on the injustices that black folks in America continue to face in this supposedly modern era of the country.

Not only the issue of black land loss, but the documentary also makes a powerful point regarding the systematic prevention of black people from getting wealthy.

It’s impossible not to feel churned up in the gut when one sees the history of the Reels family and how the land around them, their business, and their way of life waned gradually over the decades.

The profound feels are also evoked during the not-as-bleak moments, and it’s so heartwarming to see the extended family’s cookouts and celebration of life.

One very powerful moment arrives when the little girls get together to freestyle a rousing rhyme regarding their land and their undying love for its history and future.


The only negative here seems to be the lack of context that could’ve made its way into the final cut, as the article that serves as the source material is more illuminating and rigorous.

However, this doesn’t really prevent the documentary from being any less impactful.


Silver Dollar Road is a poignant and powerful look at the bleak realities attached to black land ownership in America, and how it continues to be the target of legal systems that are rigged against the community, owing to a deep-rooted prejudice that infects all of the system.

Silver Dollar Road
Silver Dollar Road review: Bleak look at black land loss in America 1

Director: Raoul Peck

Date Created: 2023-10-20 06:45

Editor's Rating:

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