Slavery by Another Name
Director: Sam Pollard
Screenwriters: Sheila Curran Bernard
Sam Pollard performs a remarkable act of historical reclamation in this documentary, recounting the many ways in which American slavery persisted as a practice many decades after its supposed abolition. It is a story impressive in its sweep and alarming in the way that its larger themeâ€”an American moral failureâ€”has been obscured in history.
Facing economic catastrophe under Reconstruction, as well as freed black citizensâ€™ political and social ascendancy, southern states found effective tactics to continue forced servitude in new modes. Techniques such as peonage (forced labor to pay off debts), leasing convicts to private business, or forcing convict labor in state-run enterprises subjected newly freed American citizens to inescapable conditions that insidiously operated under more palatable names than slavery.
Pollard recounts this slowly evolving hidden history, including the activism that powerfully confronted it, with a stirring combination of photographs, reenactments, and the testimony of key historians, bringing to light many shocking details, but more importantly redefining â€śemancipationâ€ť in history and American political life.
- U.S. Documentary Feature Films
- 2012, Sundance Film Festival
- U.S.A., 87 min.