Excuse me if I’m a season 1 and 3 weeks from season 2’s premier late, but LAWD you blessed us with this one!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing this flyer posted throughout the streets, hubs and buildings of DC. It captured me. Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s hand reaching out to save like a hero while the other hand holds a gun to protect like a soldier and her face had so much focus and care. Uh.. gave me chills!!! #ByAnyMeans.
So I’m in the process of creating an excel sheet with a list of classic black films and shows for archiving/movie night purposes (200 movies so far – comment if you’d like a copy). I kept reminding myself to include this series. Every time I’d forget I’d bus, walk or train by the poster again. The universe was making sure I did not forget to devote time to this masterpiece.
The detail I value the most about this show is the dynamism of the black characters and their story lines – some of whom slaves, others free during legal slavery. Often these types of movies can have the characters stuck in two different roles: the abused slave or the heroic and visionary leader.
Underground’s range is part of what makes it a work of art. It incorporates culture carried over from Africa, drugs, plantation life, in-depth strategy how to become free through different avenues (published writings, escape, litigation), black masters, parent/child and man/woman relationships, depression, the heart pounding 1st person view of the underground railroad… the list goes on. It’s all presented in such a holistic human light.
I appreciate this because it’s important that we know more than just we were slaves and then we weren’t. Just as it’s important that we learn about the same British/US history for our entire 4 years of high school.
I mean think of all the details left to be imagined or forgotten:
- What was the process of teaching the english language to the first generation group of Africans transported with the whites?
- Does that prove an initial collaborative relationship?
- Did Africans already speak english?
- Were Africans already here – Note our travels to Europe as Moors and the Aboriginal natives in Australia.
- I mean we know people weren’t just shipped and put on fields. Why don’t we talk about that transitional period?
We’re taught to think in such a 2 dimensional way about our history. This ties into why I love this show so much. The world tries to eliminate our understanding of our success. This is why many today can name only 5 heroes involved in the civil rights movement.
Underground does an amazing job at coloring in some of the picture. Shit look at how much has changed in the past 20 years… You think you can describe 300 years by saying we were slaves and then we weren’t?
Kudos to 32 year old Misha Green for co-creating this work of art! Issa Rae, Donald Glover, Misha… Aint these young black Kings and Queens killing the game right now?
Make sure watch the WGN America network on Wednesdays to watch the magic!