Segments in this Video

White Americans Remember (02:07)


Two elderly white men recall African-Americans being run out of Corbin, Kentucky in 1919, a year in which 28 race riots occurred across America. (Credits)

No Black Residents in Corbin Kentucky (02:13)

Viewers tour Corbin, Kentucky, birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Historian George Wright points out that the small southern town has no African-American residents. A white resident doesn't think there are racial prejudices.

History of Corbin, Kentucky (02:37)

Residents of Corbin, Kentucky recall when the railroad line was built in the early 1900s, allowing the town to become a major market center.

Labor Shortage Brings Black Workers (02:29)

At the start of WWI, the railroad in Corbin hired increasing numbers of African-American workers. Historian Robert Harris points out that blacks were called in to fill jobs left by drafted men.

"Run the Niggers Out of Town," October 31, 1919 (03:03)

Elderly Corbin residents recall the events leading up to the expulsion of African-American railroad workers. A group of whites went to homes of blacks, rounded up the men and put them on the train.

"Birth of a Nation" (00:56)

A popular 1915 film portraying the Ku Klux Klan as saving an endangered white society sparked a resurgence in the supremacist organization. A Corbin resident recalls a cross burning and a tarring and feathering.

Moving Backwards (Viewer Discretion Advised) (01:36)

During the early 1900s, many of the advances allowed African-Americans during Reconstruction were replaced by Jim Crow segregation. The negative attitudes formed would affect race relations for decades to come.

Population on Edge (Viewer Discretion Advised) (03:12)

Racial tensions were high among Corbin's white community. A woman claims her aunt was harassed by black men and male family members lynched four railroad workers in retaliation. The mayor doesn't know of any witnesses.

Conflicting Accounts (02:16)

Historian George Wright has been researching racial violence in Kentucky; he reads from newspaper articles about black railroad workers being expelled from Corbin in 1919. A resident denies the incident happened.

Encroaching on Racial Boundaries (01:38)

A white woman claims Corbin black railroad workers were taking white jobs and "acting high and mighty". Many believed African-Americans should work in subservient jobs rather than as equals to whites.

Mason-Dixon Line (01:02)

We hear from a black woman born in Corbin—she moved away soon after the 1919 race riot. Her grandfather was a wealthy saloon owner; he moved to Cincinnati after starting a relationship with a white woman to avoid persecution in the south.

Great Migration (01:24)

Between 1915 and 1919, over 500,000 African-Americans left the south. No trace of Corbin's black community exists but its history lives on in the town's racist reputation.

An Open Wound (01:25)

Corbin's mayor is puzzled as to why the African-American community never returned after being driven out in 1919. Nancy Rankin of the Kentucky Human Rights Commission attributes the issue to residents avoiding their past.

Turning a Blind Eye (Contains Harsh Language) (05:16)

Local Corbin leaders deny any racism in the town and view bringing up the 1919 race riot as counterproductive. However, interviews with the younger generation reveals racist attitudes.

Origins of Racism (02:49)

Corbin's mayor attributes Kentucky's low high school graduation rate to its widespread ignorance. A Presbyterian preacher sees prejudice as a normal human characteristic.

Mystery of Prejudice (02:16)

Corbin's 1919 race riot was not unique during that time—but persistent racist attitudes among community members are unexplained. An African-American high school athlete describes being attacked during games in the town.

A Special Town? (05:27)

Residents praise Corbin's traditions and its tight-knit community. A preacher claims there are no problems with ethnic minorities since none live there. However, we hear racist attitudes from locals.

Bridging the Racial Divide (02:22)

Playwright Charles Fuller discusses the danger of segregation to American society. Corbin residents acknowledge the community must open to African-Americans and address its racism issues in order to move into the 21st century.

Threatening Atmosphere (01:46)

Several African-Americans prefer not to go to Corbin, especially at night—they feel it would be too risky considering the racist attitudes among residents.

One Black Teen Faces Corbin (02:21)

We hear from Jeff Kyle, an African-American athlete who moved to Corbin briefly to play high school football. He received death threats and had to withdraw.

Positive Media Influence (01:02)

A woman sees the increased appearance of African-American characters on television as helping break down racist attitudes in insular Corbin.

Testing for Attitude Change (00:58)

An African-American McDonald's manager was recently transferred to Corbin. A cross was reportedly burned in his yard and he left again.

Looking Back to Move Forward (01:52)

A preacher in Corbin thinks the community has to face the town's 1919 race riots and expulsion of 200 black railroad workers rather than burying the past and continuing its racist legacy.

Credits: Trouble Behind (01:07)

Credits: Trouble Behind

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Trouble Behind

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Like many industrial centers, Corbin, Kentucky—birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken—attracted African-American sharecroppers looking for better-paying jobs during World War I. But when white veterans returned from the war, economic competition heated up, and on one October night in 1919 black citizens were literally railroaded out of town. The events of that night are reconstructed in this documentary with the help of newsreel clips and interviews with eyewitnesses and scholars, while Corbin’s current residents deny the town’s “whites only” reputation and evade its haunting past. Contains harsh and inflammatory language. (56 minutes)

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL49730

Copyright date: ©1990

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

 “A rare achievement. A tapestry of fact and feeling that has the authority of a history book and the texture of a novel.”  —The Boston Globe

“Brings racism close to home and makes it Main Street- and front parlor-personal.”  —The Village Voice

“A superb teaching tool to help people examine their own hidden prejudices.”  —Alvin Poussaint, Harvard University      

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Dealer customers.