“Welcome to Pine Lake”

Abesi Manyando
2 min readNov 14, 2020

This top documentary examines the complexity of race and history in a small Georgia town

November 3, 2020

On this episode of Sessions with Ab, Abesi sits down with the creators of the highly rated CBSN documentary, “Welcome to Pine Lake.” Director, Elisa Gambino and Executive Producer, Wendy Eley Jackson talk about the documentary that has captivated the country in a year where race and politics could not be ignored.

“Welcome to Pine Lake,” is a unique story of a tiny peaceful town in Georgia that presents itself as an inclusive oasis where nature is revered, artists are celebrated, and women lead across government. Women hold all leadership positions in Pine Lake. The city’s mayor and city council are all female, while the police chief and sole municipal judge are also women and African American. It all sounds very inviting and liberating right?

But after following the mayor and documenting daily life in the town for 18 months, the filmmakers concluded there was an additional story to be told. While Pine Lake seemed progressive, institutional racism was so ingrained in the governing system that the elected leaders were not even aware of it. In this predominately white community in the Deep South, comfort comes at a cost and the Black residents who live outside the city pay the price.

The Pine Lake courtroom is a snapshot of poverty, discrimination and entrenched racism. Is the city’s funding solely dependent on the criminalization of African-Americans? The filmmakers explore the complexity of a so called liberal city thriving in the South.

Welcome to Pine Lake is currently showing on Sho x BET. Listen to the interview below.

Abesi Manyando