2016 was the year the Underground Railroad became a focus in common culture — in Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award-winning novel, and a critically-acclaimed new tv drama about a group of runaways fleeing a Georgia plantation in 1857.
Underground, a hit for the WGN network, takes viewers by way of treacherous terrain, actually and figuratively. It really is filled with slave owners, slave catchers, abolitionists and enslaved folks, all double-crossing each and every other. There are sacrifices, rescues and revolts. The first season ends with a single of the show’s primary characters — a runaway maid named Rosalee who’s nearly died trying to save her buddies — encountering a rifle-carrying dark-skinned woman who provides to teach her how to liberate slaves. “My name’s Harriet,” she says. As in Harriet Tubman.
“Oh my god,” Veronica Wells says as she remembers watching that scene. “I’m so excited. I’m so excited about Harriet Tubman. Simply because she does not play. She does not take any mess.”
Wells is the culture editor of the web site Madam Noire and author of the novel Bettah Days. She calls Underground a brilliant show, with one of the ideal casts on television. And she’s pleased to see more representation of the woman who helped much more than one hundred men and women uncover freedom a decade before the Civil War. Harriet Tubman has been the subject of dances, an opera and a couple of comedy sketches, but aside from the 1978 Television miniseries A Woman Called Moses starring Cecily Tyson, Tubman has been barely featured on screen. “She’s a black woman, and there have not been a lot of stories for black ladies of any time period,” Wells points out.
That is why she’s seeking forward to the future $ 20 bill featuring Tubman, an upcoming movie starring Viola Davis, and watching Aisha Hinds play the character in Underground‘s new season, starting in March.
I am so excited. I’m so excited about Harriet Tubman. Due to the fact she does not play. She does not take any mess.
When Hinds 1st stepped on Underground‘s Louisiana set to play Harriet Tubman, she — a seasoned theater expert — immediately burst into tears.
“Even now, oh my God, I get so emotional about it,” she says. It was daunting to portray somebody whose nearly superhuman courage derived from total confidence that God was advising her, warning her and listening to her.
“Trying to dig deep for that level of faith for what she had carried out just completely broke me,” Hinds says. “I felt unworthy. I felt incapable of genuinely, really honoring the story she had to tell.”
Hinds immersed herself in investigation. She located Beverly Lowry’s biography Harriet Tubman: Imagining A Life especially useful. And she concentrated on finding smaller sized truths to make Tubman much less of an icon, a lot more of a human.
“How did she peel potatoes in the kitchen?” Hinds asked. “You know, just straightforward factors that you overlook to don’t forget about a individual. What was she like as a lady? What did it really feel like for her to adore a person, and for her to desire to be loved?”
Hinds says her Harriet Tubman is witty as properly as courageous. And she believes there is a explanation why Tubman feels so relevant appropriate now. “I think we’re in a time that calls for that level of courage,” she mentioned. “That level of resolve, you know, to be entirely disgusted with injustice, to the point that you will have to take some enormous leaps of faith. And it may possibly take one particular person major several.”
When the true Harriet Tubman died in 1913, it was in a house for African American seniors that Tubman herself had established years earlier. Her final words, spoken to a room filled with loved ones and close friends, had been: “I go to prepare a place for you.”