A Few Books and Movies About American Slavery


This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

A Few Books and Movies About Slavery.”

6 responses to “A Few Books and Movies About American Slavery

  1. Not sure I’d qualify Tarantino’s “Basterds” and “Django” as wonderful, given they are more for entertainment value rather than accurate history by any means. I was called out (thankfully) to do a dead body removal (I worked at a funeral home at the time) while watching “Basterds” and just never bothered to rent it to see what I missed. “Django” I actually enjoyed… watching some fave actors in other than their typical roles… and the fictional idea of a “Dirty Harry” slave was cool. But… there were more than a few historical inaccuracies in both films so I’d caution your readers to take to much to heart if they watch them. Your other references are very sound sources though, to be sure.
    You know.. given you’ve gone this far you might want to present to your readership the history of the Ku Klux Klan, which was an important part as a result of the collapse of Reconstruction. An interesting historical tidbit… you mentioned how “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was a catalyst for abolitionist furvor in the North. A ressurgence in the Klan in the very early 20th century was due in great part to the silent film “Birth Of A Nation”, which rather depicted the Klan as a glorious organization. Even to this day.. the media plays a role in how our history is formed.

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    • Hi Doug, Yes, I know Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds are fiction and historically inaccurate. Nobody ever managed to burn to death the entire top tier of the SS. But it’s what everyone wants to do when they see what those bastards did, so you get to vicariously do it. The same in Django Unchained. You should finish Inglourious Basterds. Just don’t start watching it expecting a regular WWII movie. It’s meant to be a theatrical, cathartic experience. The crescendo even takes place in a movie theater.
      As for the KKK, that’s a good idea. But I’ll give everyone a break first. Me too. And I’m still reading Du Bois. I want to thank you, by the way. I really enjoyed writing this series. I started with what I knew, but especially your comments kept me on my toes and I learned a lot more. I had always meant to read Du Bois, but now I finally did.

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  2. Great list. I have 12 Years on my library request list.
    If I may add one more:
    Frederick Douglass’ autobiography
    Anyone interested in the civil rights movement and what happened behind the scenes may be interested in Harry Belafonte’s memoir My Song

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    • Great! Thanks, Debra.
      Yes, Frederick Douglas was also a former slave. It’s much more well-known than 12 Years a Slave was until recently.
      At some point I might write more about the Civil Rights Movement.
      As for slave songs: I learned from reading Hambly’s Benjamin January books that many slave songs were secret instructions for runaway slaves that might be nearby while they were working in the fields. Any song about wading in the water, for instance, could mean that whites were hunting for the runaway with dogs, so he should go through water whenever possible, so the dogs couldn’t follow the scent.

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  3. Some of those old songs are so beautiful, too. They continue to be sung. I love how even in the worst of situations hope remains.

    I haven’t read any Benjamin January books. More for the list. thanks!

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    • Yes, especially if you ever go to New Orleans, you should start reading one, because he (I mean the character) mentions all the streets where he walks and where his friends live and all that, and it’s all in the old part of town, so you can actually follow his footsteps and imagine which houses were placee’s cottages, etc.

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