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Thursday, April 13, 2017


I've seen a few one woman acts on stage. And I may have seen a few in documentaries. But I've never seen anything like the mesmerizing performance I just saw given by Aisha Hinds on television as Harriett Tubman.

In this Wednesday Night episode of WGN's UNDERGROUND, Tubman is giving a speech to white abolitionists in Philadelphia. 
Tubman doesn't just tell about her life as she's been asked. Furthermore she doesn't just tell of the beatings and horrors. She tells about what happened in her life and what some specific episodes in her life taught her about what freedom means. In the second half of speech, she talks about the immediate future, about courage, about her faith in God leading her forward She also talks about the willingness to give up her life, if God would have it be so, while also planning to live a long life.   
As I've said before, one of my favorite things about slave stories written by black people lately is that they do not leave the white women out. Miss Anne's, or this case Miss Susan's, hand is reported as having been on the whip repeatedly and for sport. 

Fictionalized account or not, this should be required watching in every school and every church in America --especially white churches in America.
By the time Hinds as Harriett is done, she has even reached forward out of history to take a swipe at Donald Trump and his "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Aisha Hinds gave an incredible performance, an award winning performance. I'm certain she'll win awards for this episode of UNDERGROUND. It's just a matter of how many. 
As the episode ended, I couldn't help but think of Viola Davis' Oscar Speech, the one where she said all black woman lacked in Hollywood was opportunity. 
On Opportunity 
If a black man named John Legend hadn't taken his relatively new found power and used it to tell our own black story of slavery, hadn't put his power and money into UNDERGROUND, we never would have gotten to see the performance.

And if John Legend wasn't a feminist, you bet your bottom dollar that there wouldn't have been a push to have Harriet Tubman, a black woman, telling us who she was an entire episode and what attitude one should always have when an enemy is coming for you.

This episode of UNDERGROUND was so outstanding, it got it's own article in the New York Times. Aisha Hinds was interviewed for the article. I giggled a little bit when I read the episode was called HARRIET TUBMAN'S TED TALK before the episode was even written.

Even if you've never seen UNDERGROUND before, this was a stand alone performance. You can buy this episode on Amazon and probably iTunes too. Have your children watch it. This is another one of those cheap and easy history lessons. 

By the time the television show UNDERGROUND is done, I'm hoping little black girls will want Harriett Tubman action figures.

Here's a link to Season 1 of UNDERGROUND on DVD. The story of the MACON 7 begins here. From this point, if you're not interested in starting UNDERGROUND, you should be able search and find and buy the individual HARRIET TUBMAN episode called MINTY (SEASON 2, EPISODE 6) for $2 to $3.

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