Film series features black history in the U.S.

— Hiding outside of the kitchen, Frederick Douglass heard desperate screams of help.

He looked through the crack of a door and saw a black slave woman being pushed to the ground by a white man. Later picking her up and tying her hands with rope, dangling from the ceiling, he ripped the back of her shirt to whip her, making her scream louder until she hushed.

This scene marked part one of the “The Abolitionists” shown Feb. 1 as part of the Created Equal Film Series at the Plattsburgh Public Library celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and Black History Month.

The series, co-sponsored by the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, the Clinton-Essex-Franklin County Library System and the Plattsburgh Public Library, received a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund the five-part film series, giving also over 400 grants around the country.

“The topic of the civil rights struggle throughout American history is totally on the mark with our mission which is to educate people about the history of the Underground Railroad and the ongoing struggle for freedom and full rights in our society,” said Peter Slocum, programs director for the board of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association. “The topic was a perfect match for our historical story, and the library system is always looking for ways to provide historical resources to the whole region.”

So far, “The Abolitionists” part one and two and “Freedom Riders” were shown with J.W. Wiley, director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion at SUNY Plattsburgh and author of “The Nigger In You,” and Jackie Madison, president of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, as discussion leaders.

“The Abolitionists,” released in 2013, shows the struggles of men and women who led the battle to end slavery in the late 1800s featuring faces such as the daughter of a rich South Carolina slaveholder Angelina Grimke and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe. After the documentary, the floor was open for discussion, with one discussion of how Harriet Tubman was not mentioned.

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