Trouble Behind shows how present and past are tied in a fearful knot as it searches for the origins of today's racism in the past brutality of a seemingly typical American town - Corbin, Kentucky, home of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Like many industrial centers, Corbin attracted African American sharecroppers looking for better paying jobs during World War I. But when white veterans returned from the war, the found their close-knit community changed and economic competition heated up. One October night in 1919, an armed white mob rounded up 200 black railroad workers, locked them into box cars, beat many of them, and then literally railroaded them out of town.
Interviews with eyewitnesses, scholars, newsreel clips and photos reconstruct events in Corbin and place that night in the national context of a resurgent Ku Klux Klan, the triumph of Jim Crow and 28 major race riots.
Only one black family lives in Corbin today. Corbin's present residents deny the town's "whites only" reputation and evade the town's past in a haunting ritual of selective memory and forgetting. Blacks, says one white, "have chosen to live elsewhere."
Trouble Behind evokes attitudes commonly found today in many all-white towns and suburbs and how racism is passed down from generation to generation. Most of all, it demonstrates that our refusal to confront the past cripples our ability to build an inclusive future.