I'm a watcher of most TV series, shows or movies that are about history, genealogy and travel. Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are, are just a couple of them. Recently, I've been watching Underground and it is one of the most thought provoking shows that has been on TV or even in the movies ever. This series is truly about U.S. History. I had no idea that it would be so in depth and cover so much more than enslaved groups escaping through the underground seeking freedom.
The creators have done an outstanding job on covering so many angles and the impacts of this period of time before the Civil War. All individuals were affected in one way or another. Age, color, free or enslaved did not go untouched. This week's episode was so emotional yet surprising not in the way one would think. The children were changed by the lifestyle of the time and places they found themselves. A little girl "Boo" was thrown in the hands of an enslaved man that was running to freedom. Her mother made that decision for her daughter and paid the ultimate price of death. During the run in her protectors arms, she faced many frightening experiences including death of the man that was designated to take her to freedom. She runs and hides on her own, finding herself saved by her owner's sister-in-law who becomes her new protector that paid a high price to protect the runaway child.
Another young enslaved boy, James had the freedom to play and become the master's son playmate. Time changes things and the boys are separated by status yet in reality they are half brothers. James is sent to the cotton fields and quickly learns it a new period in his life while the master's son begins his training for future duties as a master. The boys are separated by life status that has been past down. Both are hurt and handle things differently.
This is simply a sample of the depth of the Underground series for this week. This period of time is painful in many ways, specifically because I'm a black individual that has a Family History rooted in the enslaved period of this country. I remember minimum teaching of the slavery period while in elementary and high school. Mostly, it left me feeling ashamed and angry of how weak and helpless enslaved blacks were projected to be during this time. It was years later that I learned there was much more to the story. I learned of abolitionist yet didn't always place the value and cost of what was being done based on their beliefs. Each role of various individuals in this series brings it home full circle.
So the biggest take away for me is finally the real story is being told in a way that none of us should miss. The second most important thing is why it is so important for us as genealogist or family historians to look around areas and time periods to make sure we include as much as possible of our "real family stories" beyond the names, dates and places. Where possible we must include the verbal history that has been passed down and not necessary proven (a real challenge without fantasy). The other take away for me is that we must include those teachings from our ancestors, parents and others that taught us how to act or what to do in certain situations.
I remember a couple like a black person should never wear red yet that was my Dad's favorite color and I still have a red cape he gave me as a gift. Alway felt uncomfortable wearing red yet alway received compliments when I did. Learned from another aunt that was lighter than her other darker siblings to put clorox in my bath water (guess it was to lighten). Guess what I'm still brown.
Oh my, the journey of a Family Historian is ongoing.