Our Land" is a short documentary film introducing the Black environmentalists and residents who are fighting to protect Eagle Harbor, Maryland. For decades, Black environmentalists and residents of Eagle Harbor, Maryland, have been fighting to protect the town from land, air and water pollution. The waterfront community formed in the late 1920s as a haven for Black Americans to escape a bustling Washington, D.C., and summer heat. At a time of segregated beaches, Eagle Harbor on the Patuxent River became a popular Black oasis for swimming, boating, fishing and other forms of recreation. Over the years, however, shoreline erosion, water contamination and other environmental conditions—some allegedly stemming from a nearby power-generating plant—have threatened the town’s livelihood as well as the townspeople’s quality of outdoor life. In Our Land, a short documentary produced by REI Co-op Studios, filmmaker Emmanuel Afolabi introduces the people who are fighting to keep the story and community of Eagle Harbor alive. Black environmentalists and townspeople, including the Patuxent Riverkeeper alliance, a local advocacy and restoration organization, have been monitoring pollution and seeking regulatory reforms to clean up the water and land so people can drink from their taps, swim and fish in the river and much more. This is a familiar battle for Black communities and other communities of color in the United States. Black communities have historically experienced the highest levels of nature deprivation in 26 states, and Latino and Hispanic communities in 8 states, according to a report by the nonpartisan policy institute the Center for American Progress . Energy generation and extraction are some of the leading causes of that lack, the Center says. Clearing the land to build facilities and infrastructure can eliminate significant greenspace, and the increased risk of spills, improper waste disposal and water and air pollution threaten local residents’ ability to safely enjoy the outdoors.
Emmanuel Afolabi is a Nigerian-American Film Director, with a degree in Film Production and living in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Afolabi’s work explores our collective humanity and the topic of identity, giving his subjects and clients individuality and dignity through visual storytelling. His primary mission is to empower communities of colour and use visual platforms as a means of amplifying an array of voices. Emmanuel often takes part in speaking engagements and workshops.