There was a time in America when love generated fear. There was a place in America where kindness created hatred. There was a time and a place in America where religion and racism collided with a force that is still felt today. The time was the 20th Century and the place was a radical Christian commune called Koinonia Farm located in rural Southwest Georgia.
Briars in the Cotton Patch is a documentary film that explores the unusual story of a community founded on the principles of non-violence and sharing that changed the lives of thousands of people, both within and outside of their commune. The members were, and still are, followers of Jesus who actively show their faith in their lives and their social activities. They are "briars" because their lives prick society's norms.
Narrated by former Atlanta Mayor and UN Ambassador Andrew Young, this one-hour television documentary examines the remarkable personalities and events of Koinonia Farm. Although not widely known, its significance and impact stretches around the world because it is the seed from which Habitat for Humanity International grew. This is a powerful story of Christian persecution, racial injustice and uncommon courage.
Briars in the Cotton Patch follows Koinonia Farm from its humble beginnings in 1942 through the challenges of the 21st century.
One of the most challenging times for Koinonia Farm was during the late 1950s when residents faced down terrifying acts of violence, persecution and terrorism. Koinonia was a constant target of the Ku Klux Klan and the white power structure of Sumter County. Despite months of frightening attacks -- including bombings, shootings and beatings -- the violence at Koinonia was disregarded by local, state and federal law enforcement. In fact, local authorities accused Koinonia's residents of committing the violence themselves. Koinonia even survived a damaging county-wide economic boycott.
Why the persecution? The residents of Koinonia Farm radically believed in the equality of all people. Whites and blacks worked and lived together as equals on the farm when segregation was the law of the land. They broke bread together, worshiped together and were ready to die together if necessary. Their actions were prickly dark briars in the pure white southern traditions of the day. But with the undaunted leadership of Koinonia's founder, Clarence Jordan, the small farm not only survived, it changed the way people - both locally and globally -- think and act today.
Nearly four years in the making, Briars in the Cotton Patch includes interviews with more than 30 people who experienced these amazing events first-hand. Hundreds of old photographs, archive film footage, newspaper articles and documents have been painstakingly researched and pieced together to tell this remarkable story. Still today, many residents of Americus and Sumter County hesitate to talk about the Koinonia-related events that took place more than 40 years ago
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