Introduction xvii arcs that show Turner’s and Tubman’s compulsion to audaciously act on their visions for equality. Proslavery, white-supremacist beliefs perpetrated the myth that Blacks were inferior to whites and also the idea that they weren’t even fully human. In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Life among the Lonely was published its original subtitle was The Man Who Was a Thing. It exposed Northern readers to the horrors of slavery and was adapted into plays called the Tom plays, which appeared throughout America. Numerous film adaptations, including the 1914 adap- tation, were made. Readers learned about the risks the enslaved took to run away to the North to keep their families intact. Characters like Eliza and Tom, in the earlier Tom films, have a certain dig- nity and rebelliousness that mitigate the brutal reality of slavery. Some miti- gating elements remain in Géza von Radvanyi’s 1965 adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but these elements are significantly reduced in a few of the 1970s films and begin to lose ground to sensational sex and violence, which take on a darker and more subversive tone in the 1977 American reedit of this film. And with films like Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971), Mandingo (1975), and its sequel Drum (1976), a sensational nadir of darkness and cynicism, with little relief in sight, and little hope for reconciliation between the races is reached. This kind of reconciliation comes with Roots (1977), which has the redemptive element of family loyalty running through it, and as it develops, it makes room for some bonding between Blacks and whites. Even though Uncle Tom’s Cabin perpetrated some unfortunate stereotypes and misinterpretation of its martyred main character, Stowe’s novel was a catalyst for the Civil War, as was the 1841 Supreme Court win—despite that seven of the nine justices were Southern enslavers—for the Amistad Africans who were able to return to their homeland. Post–Civil War Jim Crow segregation laws, ubiquitous lynchings of Blacks, white-supremacist terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan torturing Blacks and stoking fear, and an epidemic of Black incarceration and police brutality against Blacks remained prevalent but not limited to the South legally until 1968. The civil rights movement crescendoed in the 1970s, and simultaneously, not since the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s had Black art- ists the opportunity to voice and express their talents in literature, music, art, and theater. The Black Arts Movement (1965–75) fused the artistic with political expression. Filmmakers including Charles Burnett and Haile Gerima—whose Nightjohn (1997) and Sankofa (1993) are among the most eloquent and moving films about slavery—were part of the L.A. Film Rebel- lion, a group of visionary Black filmmakers who met as University of Cali- fornia Los Angeles (UCLA) students starting in the 1960s. They forged a
Previous Page Next Page