xvi Introduction enriching enslavers and forcing the enslaved to labor under backbreak- ing conditions while being brutally oppressed, discriminated against, and sexually exploited. There was rice, tobacco, indigo, and cotton, but it was King Cotton that became big business after the War of 1812 there were more millionaires in Mississippi by 1860 than anywhere else in the United States. The fomenting abolitionist movement to end slavery comprised Black and white Americans. It began in New England and the North in 1830 and rose up with a fury and urgency. It intersected with religion come-outers were Christians who left churches that supported slavery and wouldn’t run for office as the government supported it. The Quakers, also known as the Soci- ety of Friends, were among the first to speak out against the injustice and immorality of slavery and the importance of treating all people with basic human rights. Enslaved African Americans express their Africanized Chris- tianity in films depicting slavery and sing “Negro spirituals.” The decoded lyrics speak out against oppression. The songs were the soundtrack for a slow-burning revolution. As the losing Illinois senate candidate, Abraham Lincoln, said in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The South wanted to keep slav- ery intact however, the North wanted to abolish it like other countries— like England did in 1833 and France in 1848. It led to the Civil War, the war between the North and the South, which began in 1861, a month after President Lincoln was inaugurated. Lincoln abolished slavery in his Emanci- pation Proclamation after the Union won in 1865, and four million African Americans were finally given their freedom. The earliest films about enslaved African Americans depicted the myth of a happy plantation worker who sang and danced while working. But the films also showed the reality of a segregated America in which Jim Crow laws were enforced in the South. The more graphic depiction of enslaved African Americans in the later films reflects how society was influenced by the convulsive civil rights movement, whose tremors began in the 1950s before finally erupting full force in the 1960s and 1970s. Legislation was finally passed granting Blacks full equality, nearly one hundred years after slavery was abolished, and a fuller picture of the horrors of slavery began to emerge on screen. African Americans resisted and rebelled against slavery in daily acts of defiance as well as through revolutionary insurrections—from a mutiny dur- ing the Middle Passage, as shown in Steven Spielberg’s film Amistad (1997), to Nat Turner’s Insurrection, shown in Nate Parker’s potent The Birth of a Nation (2016), and Harriet Tubman’s work as a conductor on the Under- ground Railroad and spy during the Civil War, vividly chronicled in Kasi Lemmons’s compelling biopic Harriet (2019). Parker and Lemmons, African American filmmakers, suffused their films about rebels with a cause with
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