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Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek
A film by Leah Mahan
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film still 
film stillCOME HELL OR HIGH WATER follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who returns to his native coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Derrick is consumed by the effort to protect the community his great grandfather's grandfather settled as a former slave. He is on the verge of a breakthrough when Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast.

After years of restoration work to bring Turkey Creek back from the brink of death, the community gains significant federal support for cultural and ecological preservation. Derrick plans to return to Boston to rebuild the life he abandoned, but another disaster seals his fate as a reluctant activist. On the day Turkey Creek is featured in USA Today for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes.

"This intimate film tells a gigantic story—about race, about power, about so-called development. But it is also a saga of community, resilience, resistance, and hope. It's about everything that matters in our society."Rethinking Schools

"A true-life saga of individual and group efforts to serve the cause of environmental justice in the wake of threats ranging from urban sprawl to natural disasters, COME HELL OR HIGH WATER is passionate, involving, and will prompt the viewer to think."The Midwest Book Review

"Viewers will be touched by Evans' courage and self-sacrifice and gain insight into the region's historical, environmental, and racial issues."Booklist

"A unique and compelling look at how the disparate experiences of one member of the Turkey Creek diaspora are integrated to honor the history of an endangered community."Dr. Jasmine M. Waddell, Resident Dean of Freshmen, Harvard College, Visiting Scholar, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

"We highly recommend this documentary film about a middle school teacher who leads an environmental justice battle in a historic African American community in Mississippi."Deborah Menkart, Executive Director, Teaching for Change

"Highly Recommended... This is a well-told story about the clash of interests and ideals that accompany development... The film succeeds in its aim to provoke maximum outrage in telling its story of greed, grass-roots activism, and racism."Educational Media Reviews Online

"A powerful film for all those interested in social and environmental justice."Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia University, School Library Journal

"This powerful documentary illustrates a classic case of environmental injustice and exposes raw in-your-face Mississippi racial politics... A perfect lesson that we are not living in a post-racial era."Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean, School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University, Author, Race, Place, and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina

"A deeply moving depiction of the many layers of vulnerability that affect so many communities of color in the U.S. and the dedication and sacrifices required of those who fight for justice... Brings life to the words, 'Long is the struggle, hard the fight.'"Dr. Melissa Checker, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies, Queens College, Author, Polluted Promises: Environmental Racism and the Search for Justice in a Southern Town

Audience Award for Documentary Feature, New Orleans Film Festival
Green Tenacity Award, San Francisco Green Film Festival
Finalist, CINE Golden Eagle
Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Friday Harbor Film Festival

56 minutes / Color
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2013

For individual consumers (home video)

This DVD is sold for private, home use only.

Subject areas:
Activism, African American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Bullfrog Films Collection, Community, Conservation, Economics, Environment, Environmental Justice, Geography, History, Law, Political Science, Race and Racism, Rivers, Social Justice, Sociology, Sustainability, Urban Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, Wetlands


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