Some 225 years from today, on a tiny Caribbean island, self-liberated slaves led an uprising which resulted in the expulsion of the French colonial government, and the establishment of the independent Empire of Haiti. This event, hailed as the greatest slave revolt in the last few centuries, is commemorated by UNESCO with the observance of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, on August 23 every year.
The evils of slavery and slave trade have been chronicled in many films, documentaries, and TV series. Here are some of the handpicked staples which inform you about this inhuman practice, which, we fervently hope, never resurfaces in any form:
1. Roots (1977)
Based on Alex Haley’s definitive novel of the same name, Roots was an ABC miniseries, starring LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, a Mandinka sold as a slave at a plantation in Virginia. Spanning across many years and generations, Roots tells the story of a man’s struggle for identity in an environment bent upon committing it to oblivion. The series was remade in 2016 on the History Channel with Malachi Kirby playing Kunta.
2. 12 Years A Slave (2013)
Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free-born African American in the 19th century who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South, where he works on plantations for twelve years, trying to survive and uphold his dignity. The film is based on a true story, and highlights the horrors of slavery which will shock you to the core.
3. Amazing Grace (2006)
This is the story of William Wilberforce, an 18th century British politician who campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade. With stellar performances by Ioan Gruffudd and Benedict Cumberbatch, this historical biopic is a must-watch.
4. Glory (1989)
The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was one of the first all-African-American units to fight in the American Civil War (1861-65). This story about the heroism of this unit, especially at Fort Wagner, is told from the point of view of Col Robert Shaw, who led this regiment. The film also boasts of an electrifying performance by Denzel Washington as Private Trip, which fetched him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
5. Amistad (1997)
Amistad is the true story of an 1839 mutiny aboard the slave ship La Amistad, where the slaves managed to gain control of the ship from their masters before being tracked, and the courtroom drama that followed. Steven Spielberg skilfully directed this historical drama which stars giants like Sir Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman, which also propelled to fame the gifted Djimon Hounsou, for his performance as the Mende leader Joseph Cinque.
6. Rosewood (1997)
Another film based on a true incident, Rosewood refers to the 1923 massacre of African-Americans in the Florida town of the same name. This film is noted for its accurate depiction of the hysteria that gripped the racist South and the atrocities that were committed on the African Americans based on false accusations.
7. Sankofa (1993)
Directed by Ethiopian-American filmmaker Haile Gerima, this acclaimed film tells the story of Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano), an African American model who has forgotten her origins. While on a photoshoot in Africa, she is transported back in time into the body of a plantation worker in the Old South who is ruthlessly exploited by her masters. Sankofa means "go back, look for, and gain wisdom, power and hope" and this film emphasizes on the necessity for people of African origin to remember and honour their history.
Title image: hollyreporter