Powerful new documentary reveals never-before-seen photographs of an entire Louisiana neighborhood erased from the map.
WLAE-TV announced the premiere of its new groundbreaking documentary “Battlegrounds: The Lost Community of Fazendeville” – an emotionally harrowing story of one of the oldest Black neighborhoods in New Orleans that was razed during the Civil Rights struggles 60 years ago – will air for the first time on Sunday, October 30, 2022, at 7 p.m. followed by an encore presentation at 9 p.m.
Presented by the Meraux Foundation, the hour-long, powerful documentary features never-before-seen photos of Fazendeville, an idyllic, closely-knit St. Bernard Parish neighborhood of Black families who were forced to leave their homes in the 1960s. Families in the neighborhood were paid pennies on the dollar by the federal government to leave their homes so the land could be used for an expansion of the Chalmette National Battlefield site.
This moving and emotionally charged documentary tells the story of a self-sustaining community called “The Village” built by a free man of color named Jean Pierre Fazende in 1867. “The Village” was originally established for recently emancipated slaves before being abruptly dismantled and bulldozed 100 years later, leaving scores of displaced Black residents with no choice and no voice as they scattered to other areas of New Orleans.
“All that remains of this century-old neighborhood are very emotionally raw memories of the village’s displaced residents and some extraordinary pictures and historical documents of Fazendeville that were obtained by WLAE-TV,” said Jim Dotson, Vice President of LAE Productions and WLAE-TV – New Orleans public television station producing the groundbreaking “Battleground: The Lost Community of Fazendeville” documentary.
The entire one-hour documentary is narrated by those Black residents displaced and by historians and park service officials who today try to explain the decisions of their predecessors from generations ago. Fazendeville gave Blacks the first opportunity to own property in United States history, and The Village expanded to 33 homes, a church, general stores, recreation facilities, meeting halls, and bars. Doomed by its location in the middle of the battle site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, Fazendeville was an obstacle in the way of the National Park Service’s proposed expansion of the battlefield park. In 1963, President John Kennedy signed an order allowing for the park service to seize the property which was bulldozed in 1966.
“Erased from the landscape that generations of families called home, even the memory of the village faded away – until now, with this revealing one-hour documentary that tells the heartbreaking story that has gone untold for decades,” said Woody Keim, the documentary’s Executive Producer and a descendent of Fazendeville’s founder and developer right after the Civil War.
The story of Fazendeville is a story of freedom and community for the recently freed Blacks and this fascinating documentary delves into the triumph over sorrow of the neighborhood’s families who went from independence to homelessness.
The documentary’s production team includes Ron Yager, Executive Producer/Director; Jim Dotson, Executive Producer; Woody Keim, Executive Producer; Monica Pierre, Executive Producer/Producer; Jan Gross, Producer; Ted Ochoa, Associate Producer/Editor; and Nathan Rocky, Director of Photography.
“Battleground: The Lost Community of Fazendeville will premiere on WLAE-TV (Channel 32, COX Ch. 714 and 1014, Charter Ch. 11 and 711 and AT&T/DISH Ch. 32, Comcast Ch. 3 in Houma, Vision Comm Ch. 32 & 1032, RTC Ch. 2 in Reserve) on Sunday, October 30, 2022, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.