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The Documentary Film & Discussion Series meets at the Ashland Library, Community Room, every 2nd Thursday of the month, 7:00–9:00 pm. The moderated discussions are often lively and thought provoking. All points of view are welcome. Admission is free.

“Slavery by Another Name”
Thursday, Dec. 13th

Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute film that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation.

According to the PBS website, the film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

The brutality of the system was worse than slavery. As historian C. Vann Woodward and others have argued, under slavery, slave owners had an interest in a modicum of well-being for their property. Under convict labor no such interest existed. The horrors re-created in this documentary are difficult to view.

Incredibly, it took the propaganda broadcasts of Japan and Germany that told African Americans they would be truly free once the U.S. was defeated and urged them not to fight, to cause President Roosevelt to become concerned about the damage convict labor inflicted on the U.S. global image.