The Ditchdigger's Daughters (TV Movie 1997) - Plot Summary Poster

(1997 TV Movie)


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  • In many ways "The Ditchdigger's Daughters" adheres to the well worn path of a genre best described as the black struggle in an injust white America. But the real plot in this movie revolves around the tyranny of a father and the effect it has on his six daughters as he cajoles, demands, blusters, and drives his daughters to reach for his notion of excellence. Demanding all "A" report cards, prohibiting dating, punishing with housework, and insisting that each daughter aim her sights on a career as a doctor all harken to the underlying fact of his own failure to complete school, and his own view of being poor and black.


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  • The movie tells the true story about a black family of all girls that transcends race, color and gender to rekindle our belief in the American spirit and the human will to succeed despite adversity. The movie weaves the tale of how a working class laborer and his wife, who was a domestic, moved their six daughters from the tenements of Harlem to the spotlight of the Apollo Theatre and into careers as professional women. Not a small feat, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. Two daughters are physicians (high-risk obstetrician and psychiatrist), one an oral surgeon, one a nurse and one an attorney. The movie, "The Ditchdigger's Daughters" is a tribute to Dr. Thornton's father and celebrates her family's fulfillment of the American Dream. At the end, his six daughters serve as Donald Thornton's pallbearers and carry him to his final resting place.

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