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The Language You Cry In (1998)

The Language You Cry In DVD

This documentary traces the history of a burial song of the Mende people brought by slaves to the rice plantations of the Southeast coast of the United States over two hundred years ago, and preserved among the Gullah people there.

In the 1930’s a pioneering Black linguist, Lorenzo Turner, recognized its origin, and in the 1990s scholars Joe Opala and Cynthia Schmidt discovered that the song was still remembered in a remote village in Sierra Leone.

It dramatically demonstrates how African Americans retained links with their African past, and concludes with the visit of the Gullah family which had preserved the song to the Mende village, where villagers re-enact the ancient burial rites for them.

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