Monday, Feb. 5, 2001
RICHMOND, Va. — Bayview, an Eastern Shore
hamlet that has become a national symbol of rural poverty, is profiled in a new
documentary produced by a group of Virginia Commonwealth University students. A
free, public screening of "This Black Soil: A Story of Struggle and
Change" will be shown Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in VCU’s Grace Street Theater,
934 W. Grace St.
The one-hour documentary, which took two years to make, was produced by 12
students in an advanced video class in VCU’s Communication Arts and Design
Department. The video traces the work of Bayview residents and the Bayview
Citizens for Social Justice from their successful fight to block Virginia’s
plans to build a maximum security prison in their front yards to their recent
acquisition of land to remake Bayview into the rural village it once was –
with retail stores, private homes, rental units and cottage industries.
The students filmed, edited and conducted research for the documentary.
"By telling a story through video you can see it, hear it and feel
it," said Elliana Brocato, a senior majoring in kinetic and digital
imagery. "Video is a very powerful medium."
More than half of Bayview’s 114 citizens live without running water,
plumbing, efficient and safe heating, or transportation to the few jobs in the
area. Many have lived in insufficient and unsafe housing for years. Along
Bayview’s pockmarked dirt roads, outhouses overflow with waste after heavy
rains, adding to what Northampton County and officials with the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People have called inhumane
In the past three years, state and federal politicians have descended on
Bayview with promises to assist in what state officials estimate will be an up
to $7 million program to improve the town’s housing supply, water system and
"After three years of struggle to obtain monies to help improve the
quality of their daily lives, Bayview residents are now on the verge of
fulfilling their vision of earning a living wage by building a sustainable
economic base," said Teresa L. Konechne, M.F.A., the VCU assistant
communication arts and design professor who directed the project. "This
documentary could change how communities all over Virginia and the country
demand our government to respond to the basic needs of people. It’s a
Njeri Jackson, Ph.D., director of VCU’s African-American Studies Program,
will deliver opening remarks at the screening. After the documentary is shown,
Konechne, Bayview residents and students involved in the project will give a
The screening is co-sponsored by VCU’s Women’s Studies Program and
Communication Arts and Design Department. The project received funding from the
department and VCU’s Community Service Associates Program.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.