Slavery by Another Name: The History of Exploitation of Black Labor

by / June 2, 2014 video 767 Comments

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April Taylor

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II was originally a book by Douglas A. Blackmon that tells the story of how black men and women were placed back into slavery conditions through the convict lease system used by state and local governments, white farmers, and corporations after the Civil War.  The book highlights the little known fact that slavery did not in fact end with the Civil War; it simply morphed into a different form.

The book became a New York Times Best Seller and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 2009. The award committee referred to the book as “a precise and eloquent work that examines a deliberate system of racial suppression and that rescues a multitude of atrocities from virtual obscurity.”

In 2011, the book was adapted into a 90 minute documentary by PBS entitled Slavery By Another Name.  It originally aired in February 2012 and was produced by Catherine Allan and Blackmon, the books original author.  The film is narrated by Laurence Fishburne and premiered as a competitor at the Sundance Film Festival.

The New York Times review of the film pointed out that “by filling in an overlooked part of black history, this sobering film enhances our understanding of why race issues have proved so intractable.”

The book and films contribution to understanding the current existence of the prison industrial complex and it’s roots in slavery is an integral piece to understanding why racial suppression is just as much a part of America’s current reality as it was it’s past.

To watch the film and understand why the conversation about race and exploitation is not over, watch the full documentary below.  For more information on the book, click here

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