DVD Celebrates Life of Black Man with Green Thumb
When Pearl Fryar needed to move to Bishopville, South Carolina in 1976 to start a new job as a janitor in a can factory located there, the first house he and his wife, Metra, settled on was located on the white side of town. However, they changed their plans upon being informed by their new neighbors that they weren’t welcome because “Black people don’t keep up their yards.”
Though hurt by the racist remark, the couple didn’t become embittered but instead bought a 3½ acre plot across the proverbial tracks in the black community. Immediately, Pearl began to cultivate a top-flight garden, determined to make those bigots eat their words by becoming the first black person to win the Iris Garden Club’s “Yard of the Month Award.”
Because he didn’t have much money to fund his ambitious enterprise, most of Pearl’s plants and seedlings came from the dump behind the local nursery. And even though this son of a sharecropper didn’t have any book knowledge about botany, he had enough of a green thumb to figure out ways to revive all sorts of ailing and abandoned vegetation.
To land the “Yard of the Month Award” he began shaping his shrubs into an eye-catching collection of over 150 topiary figures. And not only did he earn the coveted accolade, but today folks flock from all over to see his world-renowned garden. In fact, because Bishopville is in economic decline, it can thank its lucky stars that Pearl’s topiaries have turned tourism into an alternate source of revenue.
This moving story of rejection-turned-acceptance is a touching bio-pic about a humble soul who encountered entrenched racism and responded with goodwill towards all. A life-affirming documentary illustrating how a black man’s green thumb proved to be the best revenge for white intolerance.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 78 minutes
Studio: New Video Group
DVD Extras: Bonus CD with the original film score by composer Fred Story, Pearl Fryar and co-director Scott Galloway update, composer interview and filmmaker bios.
To see the trailer for A Man Named Pearl, visit: http://www.amannamedpearl.com/