The Reels, a large African-American family, has occupied the same 65 acre property on the North Carolina coast that their ancestor purchased in the decades after slavery. In the 1970s, a Reels patriarch dies without a will, and another heir secretly sells the land out from under them to a developer. Once a haven for outdoor activities and family gatherings, Silver Dollar Road becomes a symbol of defiance, as the Reels clan stays put, enduring escalating legal threats and harassment. Finally, two cousins, Licurtis Reels and Melvin Davis, receive lengthy prison terms. Will they rot in prison simply for protecting their home?
Director Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”) delivers a pointed message about the discriminatory practice of forcing African-Americans to sell off choice property, through means subtle and unsubtle, that’s extended well over a century. Peck makes “Road” a very human and personal story, as we get to hear from, and get to know, various members of the Reels family. The latter portion of the film inspires outrage as we see two men sent away for refusing to leave land they never agreed to sell. Yet in the end, we feel inspired by the spirit and determination of these people. Take a walk down “Silver Dollar Road.”