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Tag: Slavery

March 3: “12 Years a Slave” and “Slavery And The Making Of America” (Revised)

Ordinarily, I’d be posting a video for History Monday, but not today.

Today I’m posting the link to the 2014 Best Picture Oscar Award-winning 12 Years a Slave. I’d post a link to the movie itself, but I’m certain it will return to theaters in the very near future, and I encourage you to go see it.

12 Years a Slave is a tough watch because it presents the terrible, cold, hard, unshakable reality of slavery. Solomon Northrup’s story is Roots for today’s world.

Movies like these bring home the truth, whether people want to hear it or not. It is important to tell these stories, especially today, when people like Arkansas state representative Jon Hubbard can be so remarkably unclear about the cost that they can suggest  slavery was a “blessing in disguise” and sites like Save Our Heritage (which I refuse to link to – you can go find this one on your own) post the sort of revisionist history that would have you believe being a slave isn’t so bad, and that we ought to return to those times.

You can complain about reality all you want, but you can’t alter it. That’s why it’s reality. It’s what happened. And what’s happening now, today, here in the US and abroad. That’s how I dedicate my Mondays this year: To recognizing the truth.

[Revised to add…]

So, because I haven’t got a live link to either 12 Years a Slave or Roots, I give you a different documentary, entitled Slavery and the Making of America. Yeah, it’s long. It’s also important. And I’m adding it here after the initial posting date, because I found it after I posted.

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February 17 (President’s Day): National Geographic’s Expedition Week ~ The Real George Washington

Today is President’s Day in the United States. Based on George Washington’s birthday, it’s a holiday for many, and now celebrates our presidents in general, though it falls between Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays on the calendar each year.

There’s a lot of myth and mystery surrounding our first official president. This biography does some work to separate fact from fiction.

We depart slightly from Black History month, though in reality, it’s impossible to separate the two, as the president was also a slave holder. Take the time to learn a little more about George Washington.

[Unfortunately, only this preview remains on YouTube. The full documentary is gone. -BMD]

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February 3: Journey to Freedom; Alfre Woodard & Cicely Tyson ~ “Ain’t I a Woman”

Before I post the following three videos, I’m going to say something that stands a chance of making me unpopular. Shocking, I know.

Morgan Freeman, in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in December, 2005, said “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” I agree. I’m not confining my exploration of history to a single month. I chose Monday to highlight the subject entirely at random. But it’s clear after Google celebrated Harriet Tubman’s life with a Google Doodle, folks aren’t so keen on American History that they know who Harriet Tubman was or what she did to earn her place in history.

To gain an understanding of the Underground Railroad and its accomplishments, you can watch this documentary on the subject, from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Sojourner Truth has a similar place in American history, and equally hazy recognition. She is best known for her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, given at the Women’s Convention in 1851. Tubman and Truth, Cady Stanton and Anthony. They helped lay the foundations on which we stand and continue to fight for equality.

I owe a great deal to all four of these women, who fought for equality at a time when we were considered property, not free to pursue our own destinies. So do all the women in this country who enjoy the freedom to vote, to work, to own property and to live independently.

Here are two interpretations of Sojourner Truth’s famous speech:

and

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January 27: ASK A SLAVE Ep 2: Abolitioning

And we’re back with Lizzie Mae, once again, as she tackles the question of Abolition from her own unique perspective.

We’re entering Black History Month in short order. I figure some reminding is in order, while we remember why slavery’s end and equal rights are important.

Remember: The questions are real (and shameful). The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

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January 6: ASK A SLAVE ~ Ep 1: Meet Lizzie Mae

I used to say the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. I’ve revised that line of thinking, thanks to Lizzie Mae.

These first started hitting my feed around the end of last year, and I meant to get to them, but I didn’t, until around mid December when I was already deep in Advent Calendar Land. It’s embarrassing, sitting there, howling all by yourself. I wanted to share with the rest of the world. And now I am. Look for more of these throughout the next few months.

The saddest (most hilarious) part is that these responses are based on real life.

From the credits:

Ask A Slave is a comedy web series based on the actress’ time working as a living history character at [a popular historic site]. Starring Azie Dungey as Lizzie Mae and directed by Jordan Black.
All questions and interactions are based on true events.

Real Questions. Real Comedy.
Learn more @ www.AskASlave.com

Really. People are that insensitive, uneducated and just flat out stupid.

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