As we gather to observe the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition, we embark on a poignant journey through history and the enduring legacy of those who were ensnared by the shackles of the transatlantic slave trade. This day is a solemn reminder of the collective responsibility to remember, learn, and honor the stories of those who suffered, resisted, and triumphed in the face of one of humanity's darkest chapters.
In exploring art's transformative power, we delve into a selection of films, TV series, and songs that amplify the voices of the oppressed, narrate tales of liberation, and underscore the resilience that continues to inspire generations. Here is a tribute to strength, courage, and artistry.
"12 Years a Slave" (2013)
Directed by Steve McQueen, this powerful and harrowing film is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free Black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.
"Roots" (1977) - TV Mini-Series
This groundbreaking mini-series, based on Alex Haley's novel, traces the history of one African family's journey through slavery in America.
"Underground" (2016-2017) - TV Series
A gripping series that follows the lives of enslaved people who attempt a daring escape from a Georgia plantation via the Underground Railroad.
"13th" (2016) - Documentary
Directed by Ava DuVernay, this eye-opening doc explores the 13th Amendment and its impact on mass incarceration in the United States, highlighting the legacy of slavery.
"Four Women" by Nina Simone (1966)
This haunting song by Nina Simone reflects on the experiences of four Black women throughout slavery and beyond. Written by Simone, it's powerful commentary on race and identity.
"The 1619 Project"
Created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, this multimedia project reexamines the legacy of slavery in the United States and its lasting impact on American society. It was also a docueries on Hulu.
"Beloved" (1998) - Film
Based on Toni Morrison's novel, this film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Oprah Winfrey explores the haunting aftermath of slavery on a woman's life. The story was loosely based on Margaret Garner, an enslaved woman who escaped and killed her daughter rather than return back to slavery. Garner was eventually returned back to slavery.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, this historical drama tells the true story of a mutiny aboard the slave ship La Amistad and the subsequent legal battle for the freedom of the enslaved people.
"Wade in the Water" - Song
"Wade in the Water" is a traditional African-American spiritual that has deep roots in the history of slavery. The song provided instructions for enslaved Black people who were seeking to escape. The lyrics advise enslaved people to "wade in the water" as a means of throwing off pursuing bloodhounds and trackers. The song served as a form of coded communication, offering guidance on how to find freedom.