How did Colson Whitehead feel when he heard about the Underground Railroad?
- When author Colson Whitehead first heard about the Underground Railroad as a child he imagined a subway beneath the earth that escaped slaves could ride to freedom. He tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that when he found out that it was not a literal train, he felt “a bit upset.”.
Is Underground a true story?
Underground’s stars say the same. So while Underground is not based on any specific real people, it proves that you can still be very faithful to history without following the events of a single person’s life.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
What happened to Lovey in the Underground Railroad?
She secretly decides to join Cora and Caesar’s escape mission but she is captured early in the journey by hog hunters who return her to Randall, where she is killed by being impaled by a metal spike, her body left on display to discourage others who think of trying to escape.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
What states was the Underground Railroad in?
Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
How many slaves were saved by the Underground Railroad?
According to some estimates, between 1810 and 1850, the Underground Railroad helped to guide one hundred thousand enslaved people to freedom.
Is Caesar really dead in the Underground Railroad?
While the show doesn’t show us what happens after their encounter, Caesar comes to Cora in a dream later, confirming to viewers that he was killed. In the novel, Caesar faces a similar fate of being killed following his capture, though instead of Ridgeway and Homer, he is killed by an angry mob.
Why does Stevens rob graves?
According to his society, Stevens’ grave robbing is a crime but not the most serious of crimes. Stevens himself chooses to understand grave robbing as a noble calling in order to ease his own conscience.
Who killed Boseman in the Underground Railroad?
Boseman is fatally shot by Royal after being caught attempting to rape Cora. Get the entire The Underground Railroad LitChart as a printable PDF.
Where is William Still House?
This led him and his wife Letitia to move to a relatively new rowhouse on the east side of Ronaldson Street between South and Bainbridge Streets, which still stands today at 625 S. Delhi Street. The Stills occupied this house, which was an Underground Railroad Way Station, from 1850 through 1855.
Was Ohio part of the Underground Railroad?
Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, even in the South, Ohio had the most active network of any other state with around 3000 miles of routes used by escaping runaways. First Ohio was bordered by 2 slave states: Virginia and Kentucky.
What does freight mean in the Underground Railroad?
Cargo / Freight: Cargo or Freight was the name given to fugitive slaves who received assistance from conductors on the Underground Railroad. Passengers: Passengers was another name give to slaves traveling the escape routes.
The True History Behind Amazon Prime’s ‘Underground Railroad’
If you want to know what this country is all about, I always say, you have to ride the rails,” the train’s conductor tells Cora, the fictitious protagonist of Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novelThe Underground Railroad, as she walks into a boxcar destined for the North. As you race through, take a look about you to see the genuine face of America.” Cora’s vision is limited to “just blackness, mile after mile,” according to Whitehead, as she peers through the carriage’s slats. In the course of her traumatic escape from servitude, the adolescent eventually understands that the conductor’s remark was “a joke.
Cora and Caesar, a young man enslaved on the same Georgia plantation as her, are on their way to liberation when they encounter a dark other world in which they use the railroad to go to freedom.
” The Underground Railroad,” a ten-part limited series premiering this week on Amazon Prime Video, is directed by Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins and is based on the renowned novel by Alfred North Whitehead.
When it comes to portraying slavery, Jenkins takes a similar approach to Whitehead’s in the series’ source material.
“And as a result, I believe their individuality has been preserved,” Jenkins says Felix.
The consequences of their actions are being inflicted upon them.” Here’s all you need to know about the historical backdrop that informs both the novel and the streaming adaptation of “The Underground Railroad,” which will premiere on May 14th.
Did Colson Whitehead baseThe Underground Railroadon a true story?
“The reality of things,” in Whitehead’s own words, is what he aims to portray in his work, not “the facts.” His characters are entirely made up, and the story of the book, while based on historical facts, is told in an episodic style, as is the case with most episodic fiction. This book traces Cora’s trek to freedom, describing her lengthy trip from Georgia to the Carolinas, Tennessee and Indiana.) Each step of the journey presents a fresh set of hazards that are beyond Cora’s control, and many of the people she meets suffer horrible ends.) What distinguishes The Underground Railroad from previous works on the subject is its presentation of the titular network as a physical rather than a figurative transportation mechanism.
According to Whitehead, who spoke to NPR in 2016, this alteration was prompted by his “childhood belief” that the Underground Railroad was a “literal tunnel beneath the earth”—a misperception that is surprisingly widespread.
Webber Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons While the Underground Railroad was composed of “local networks of anti-slavery people,” both Black and white, according to Pulitzer Prize–winning historianEric Foner, the Underground Railroad actually consisted of “local networks of anti-slavery people, both Black and white, who assisted fugitives in various ways,” from raising funds for the abolitionist cause to taking cases to court to concealing runaways in safe houses.
Although the actual origins of the name are unknown, it was in widespread usage by the early 1840s.
Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, argues that the Underground Railroad should be referred to as the “Abolitionist Underground” rather than the “Underground Railroad” because the people who ran it “were not just ordinary, well-meaning Northern white citizens, activists, particularly in the free Black community,” she says.
As Foner points out, however, “the majority of the initiative, and the most of the danger, fell on the shoulders of African-Americans who were fleeing.” a portrait taken in 1894 of Harriet Jacobs, who managed to hide in an attic for nearly seven years after fleeing from slavery.
Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons “Recognizable historical events and patterns,” according to Foner, are used by Whitehead in a way that is akin to that of the late Toni Morrison.
According to Sinha, these effects may be seen throughout Cora’s journey.
According to Foner, author of the 2015 bookGateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, “the more you know about this history, the more you can appreciate what Whitehead is doing in fusing the past and the present, or perhaps fusing the history of slavery with what happened after the end of slavery.”
What time period doesThe Underground Railroadcover?
Caesar (Aaron Pierre) and Cora (Thuso Mbedu) believe they’ve discovered a safe haven in South Carolina, but their new companions’ behaviors are based on a belief in white supremacy, as seen by their deeds. Kyle Kaplan is a producer at Amazon Studios. The Underground Railroad takes place around the year 1850, which coincides with the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act. Runaways who had landed in free states were targeted by severe regulations, and those who supported them were subjected to heavy punishments.
In spite of the fact that it was intended to hinder the Underground Railroad, according to Foner and Sinha, the legislation actually galvanized—and radicalized—the abolitionist cause.
“Every time the individual switches to a different condition, the novel restarts,” the author explains in his introduction.
” Cora’s journey to freedom is replete with allusions to pivotal moments in post-emancipation history, ranging from the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the mid-20th century to white mob attacks on prosperous Black communities in places like Wilmington, North Carolina (targeted in 1898), and Tulsa, Oklahoma (targeted in 1898).
According to Spencer Crew, former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and emeritus director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, this “chronological jumble” serves as a reminder that “the abolition of slavery does not herald the abolition of racism and racial attacks.” This problem has survived in many forms, with similar effects on the African American community,” says the author.
What real-life events doesThe Underground Railroaddramatize?
In Whitehead’s envisioned South Carolina, abolitionists provide newly liberated people with education and work opportunities, at least on the surface of things. However, as Cora and Caesar quickly discover, their new companions’ conviction in white superiority is in stark contrast to their kind words. (Eugenicists and proponents of scientific racism frequently articulated opinions that were similar to those espoused by these fictitious characters in twentieth-century America.) An inebriated doctor, while conversing with a white barkeep who moonlights as an Underground Railroad conductor, discloses a plan for his African-American patients: I believe that with targeted sterilization, initially for the women, then later for both sexes, we might liberate them from their bonds without worry that they would slaughter us in our sleep.
- “Controlled sterilization, research into communicable diseases, the perfecting of new surgical techniques on the socially unfit—was it any wonder that the best medical talents in the country were flocking to South Carolina?” the doctor continues.
- The state joined the Union in 1859 and ended slavery inside its borders, but it specifically incorporated the exclusion of Black people from its borders into its state constitution, which was finally repealed in the 1920s.
- In this image from the mid-20th century, a Tuskegee patient is getting his blood taken.
- There is a ban on black people entering the state, and any who do so—including the numerous former slaves who lack the financial means to flee—are murdered in weekly public rituals.
- The plot of land, which is owned by a free Black man called John Valentine, is home to a thriving community of runaways and free Black people who appear to coexist harmoniously with white residents on the property.
- An enraged mob of white strangers destroys the farm on the eve of a final debate between the two sides, destroying it and slaughtering innocent onlookers.
- There is a region of blackness in this new condition.” Approximately 300 people were killed when white Tulsans demolished the thriving Black enclave of Greenwood in 1921.
- Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons According to an article published earlier this year by Tim Madigan for Smithsonianmagazine, a similar series of events took place in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, which was known locally as “Black Wall Street,” in June 1921.
- Madigan pointed out that the slaughter was far from an isolated incident: “In the years preceding up to 1921, white mobs murdered African Americans on hundreds of instances in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Duluth, Charleston, and other places,” according to the article.
In addition, Foner explains that “he’s presenting you the variety of options,” including “what freedom may actually entail, or are the constraints on freedom coming after slavery?” “It’s about. the legacy of slavery, and the way slavery has twisted the entire civilization,” says Foner of the film.
How doesThe Underground Railroadreflect the lived experience of slavery?
“How can I construct a psychologically plausible plantation?” Whitehead is said to have pondered himself while writing on the novel. According to theGuardian, the author decided to think about “people who have been tortured, brutalized, and dehumanized their whole lives” rather than depicting “a pop culture plantation where there’s one Uncle Tom and everyone is just incredibly nice to each other.” For the remainder of Whitehead’s statement, “Everyone will be battling for the one additional mouthful of food in the morning, fighting for the tiniest piece of property.” According to me, this makes sense: “If you put individuals together who have been raped and tortured, this is how they would behave.” Despite the fact that she was abandoned as a child by her mother, who appears to be the only enslaved person to successfully escape Ridgeway’s clutches, Cora lives in the Hob, a derelict building reserved for outcasts—”those who had been crippled by the overseers’ punishments,.
who had been broken by the labor in ways you could see and in ways you couldn’t see, who had lost their wits,” as Whitehead describes Cora is played by Mbedu (center).
With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima While attending a rare birthday party for an older enslaved man, Cora comes to the aid of an orphaned youngster who mistakenly spills some wine down the sleeve of their captor, prompting him to flee.
Cora agrees to accompany Caesar on his journey to freedom a few weeks later, having been driven beyond the threshold of endurance by her punishment and the bleakness of her ongoing life as a slave.
As a result, those who managed to flee faced the potential of severe punishment, he continues, “making it a perilous and risky option that individuals must choose with care.” By making Cora the central character of his novel, Whitehead addresses themes that especially plagued enslaved women, such as the fear of rape and the agony of carrying a child just to have the infant sold into captivity elsewhere.
The account of Cora’s sexual assault in the novel is heartbreakingly concise, with the words “The Hob ladies stitched her up” serving as the final word.
Although not every enslaved women was sexually assaulted or harassed, they were continuously under fear of being raped, mistreated, or harassed, according to the report.
With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima The novelist’s account of the Underground Railroad, according to Sinha, “gets to the core of how this venture was both tremendously courageous and terribly perilous.” She believes that conductors and runaways “may be deceived at any time, in situations that they had little control over.” Cora, on the other hand, succinctly captures the liminal state of escapees.
- “What a world it is.
- “Was she free of bondage or still caught in its web?” “Being free had nothing to do with shackles or how much room you had,” Cora says.
- The location seemed enormous despite its diminutive size.
- In his words, “If you have to talk about the penalty, I’d prefer to see it off-screen.” “It’s possible that I’ve been reading this for far too long, and as a result, I’m deeply wounded by it.
- view of it is that it feels a little bit superfluous to me.
- In his own words, “I recognized that my job was going to be coupling the brutality with its psychological effects—not shying away from the visual representation of these things, but focusing on what it meant to the people.” “Can you tell me how they’re fighting back?
History of the United States Based on a true story, this film Books Fiction about the American Civil War Racism SlaveryTelevision Videos That Should Be Watched
‘Their stories need to be told’: the true story behind The Underground Railroad
Don’t be deceived by the railway carriage’s appearance. A railroad museum may be situated within one, however the content of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum has nothing to do with railroads. Its original origins may be traced across the street to the Pamlico River, which was formerly utilized as a route of escape by enslaved African Americans seeking freedom in the 19th century. The museum’s cofounder and executive director, Leesa Jones, explains that after reading a slew of documents and old slave ads from Washington newspapers that would say things like, “My slave has escaped, they’re going to try to get to Washington in order to board a ship to get to their freedom,” they realized that they wanted to tell an accurate story about how freedom seekers left from the Washington waterfront.
- Jones points out that the first misconception many have about the underground railroad is that it was a system of subterranean trains, tunnels, and platforms that branched out like the London Underground or the New York subway.
- There actually existed a network of hidden routes and safe homes that thousands of enslaved persons used to travel from the southern United States to the free states and Canada during the early and mid-19th centuries.
- The Underground Railroad, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead published in 2016, examined the divide between the real and the metaphorical by reimagining genuine trains booming beneath the soil.
- However, in addition to depicting cotton fields, plantations, and forests, it is as effective in depicting subterranean steam trains that provide a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
- I don’t want a blue screen of death.
- It had everything to do with the time, the place, and the fact that they were chatting in code.
- For example, a depot may have been anything other than a railroad station; it could have been a graveyard, a river, a barn, or a location in the woods.
As a result, individuals were free to talk about it, and those who overheard the conversation may have assumed they were talking about a railroad line or a train station, which they were not talking about.
Tracks and trains aren’t the only thing that people have misconceptions about.
Political influence and legal help were provided by African-Americans with access to education and resources, such as Robert Purvis and William Whipper, both of whom were from Philadelphia.
Photograph courtesy of MPI/Getty Images “In many of the narratives that you read, the abolitionists appear to be the heroes, and, without taking anything away from their noble deeds, what the freedom seekers accomplished is underestimated,” Jones adds.
Their situation was not that of helpless slaves on a plantation, waiting for the white abolitionists to arrive and take them away.
Thinking about the freedom seekers and the stories they recounted after achieving freedom, it becomes clear who the true hero of the story was very fast.
A tear fell from Jones’s eye during the film Harriet, which was released in 2019 and starred Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, one of the most well-known conductors of the subterranean railroad.
While she is not a fan of Whitehead’s use of artistic license, she is looking forward to watching the Amazon version and participating in the discussion that it will elicit.
According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution, the most organized networks were in Pennsylvania and New York, with many of them centered on local churches.
Free Black people who liberated enslaved individuals from plantations in Maryland and Virginia ran an underground railroad station near the US Capitol in Washington, which was managed by free Black people.
‘One has to pay particular attention to the Black communities in the northern hemisphere, since they are the foot troops of this movement,’ he explains.
Image courtesy of Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios It was they who ensured that people were securely hidden, who resisted attempts to apprehend fugitives, who showed up at court hearings, who spent cold nights standing outside these hearings to ensure that people were not sent away before the hearing was completed.” Understanding the underground railroad requires an understanding of the people who worked on the network.
We must also remember those whites, notably attorneys, who took the lead in defending these fugitive slaves in the courtrooms of the northern states.
The extent of the brutality and persecution, as well as the deliberate efforts to return freedom seekers to servitude, are still not completely appreciated by the international community.
It was a risky move on their part.
These individuals are fleeing their homes, their families, and the locations that they are familiar with in an attempt to gain their freedom. It dawned on me that one must grasp their notion of freedom via their actions in order for freedom to become both a goal and an action.”
- A new episode of Amazon Prime’s The Underground Railroad is now available.
Fact and fiction in ‘The Underground Railroad’
In preparation for Colson Whitehead’s visit to campus, three Lesley professors convened a symposium in Washburn Lounge to debate the intersection of reality, fiction, and imagination in the author’s famous work, “The Underground Railroad.” The discussion was open to the public. A total of 40 students, instructors, and staff members took part in the event. Please see below for a brief overview if you haven’t already done so. A young lady named Cora is captured in Georgia and sold into slavery, with her only hope of escaping through the Underground Railroad.
His description of the train, in instance, is that of a real, subterranean form of transit that transports Cora from one condition to another.
Despite the fact that Whitehead uses artistic license to great advantage, Assistant Professor Tatiana Cruz believes that it might also lead to some misunderstanding.
Cruz described the true underground railroad, which was primarily run by “everyday black folks,” not white abolitionists, and which was primarily operated in states bordering free states, because it was too dangerous to run such an operation in more southern states, as outlined in the book Underground Railroad: A History.
A significant number of slaves were illiterate, and their inability to comprehend maps and road signs added an additional element of risk to an already perilous journey.
The narrative of Cora, on the other hand, depicts a lady who is on a trip.
It is the path of a man toward self-knowledge that defines his journey.” Dockray-Miller stated that “The Underground Railroad” draws on literary influences such as Frederick Douglass’ autobiography and “Gulliver’s Travels,” but added that “he’s remixing it and making it his own.” In her opinion, Whitehead has established a literary trope for which there is no existing label.
While many have referred to the work as magical realism, Ronderos disagreed, claiming that it was too realistic to fall into that category.
As a result, even in the novel’s fantasy components, the heart of the narrative — from the brutality inflicted on enslaved people to the vicious chase of escaped slaves — is represented accurately.
Moreover, according to Dockray-Miller, while the work is primarily concerned with the past, it also contains a message for readers today and in the future.
“I believe Colson Whitehead is bright in a variety of ways,” she stated. “He’s an artist who understands the beauty of the English language and knows how to utilize it to great advantage,” says the author.
‘The Underground Railroad’ Takes Liberties — But It’s More Fact Than Fiction
The winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is now available to watch on a screen near you via Netflix. It’s impossible not to be excited about the adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad into a limited series on Amazon Prime Video, which will premiere in the fall. What makes the novel so compelling is Whitehead’s imaginative take on the antebellum American South—but Whitehead’s magical realism may cause some readers (and now viewers) to wonder how much of The Underground Railroad is based on real history.
- Here’s all you need to know about the situation.
- This epic trip through the United States in quest of freedom is chronicled in The Underground Railroad, which follows Cora, a woman born into slavery on a Georgia farm, as she embarks on her journey.
- Cora is joined by a variety of companions, including Lovey and Caesar.
- The Underground Railroad, a Prime Video original film directed by Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins, is currently streaming on the service.
- Here’s everything you need to know about The Underground Railroad’s historical accuracy and fiction:
The Underground Railroad
So, let’s start with the actual railroad system. Although it’s widely known today, the real-life Underground Railroad was an interconnected network of white and BIPOC abolitionists — some of whom had been enslaved themselves — who collaborated to smuggle runaways from Southern plantations to free states, the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as Canada. The conductors of the railroad would conceal Black fugitives at “stations,” which included houses, churches, and businesses, and discreetly move them to the next station as soon as time and safety permitted.
With this history in mind, Whitehead’s novel transforms the real-life Underground Railroad into a true subway system, with routes connecting the southernmost states of the United States to Canada.
For its conductors and passengers, Whitehead’s Railroad is as hazardous for Cora and her companions as the real-life routes were for enslaved people and those who assisted them in their emancipation.
During the Underground Railroad, the slave catcher who was hired to bring Cora back to the Randall farm plays an important role. Ridgeway was unable to locate Cora’s mother, Mabel, after she escaped from Randall, and he sees Cora’s recovery as an opportunity to make up for his previous mistakes. He is introduced immediately after Cora and Caesar begin their journey north, and he catches Cora on multiple occasions throughout the novel, finally stopping when she abandons him to die on an Underground Railroad platform in Indiana at the end of the story.
Among the features of that system were organized and armed nightly patrols, as well as legal responsibilities for white residents to hold and report any unknown Black person they came across.
As a result, the slave patrol system paved the way for the post-Civil War rise of the Ku Klux Klan — who figure in The Underground Railroad as the night riders Cora sees in North Carolina — and for the establishment of police agencies across the country.
The history of South Carolina is intricately intertwined with the history of slavery in the United States of America. Early American slave trade routes passed via Charleston, South Carolina, which served as a major hub for the kidnapping, purchasing, and selling of Black and Indigenous people. It was designated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and it has been in operation as the Old Slave Mart Museum since 2007. The Old Slave Mart Museum is housed in Charleston’s Old Slave Mart, which is commonly thought to be the only remaining slave auction site in the state.
- When it joined the Confederacy in February 1861, it was the location of the opening fight of the United States Civil War, which took place in April of that year when the South Carolina militia opened fire on Union forces stationed at Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor.
- Upon arriving at their first station on the railroad, Cora and Caesar are surprised to discover that the state government has purchased all enslaved people and provided them with paying jobs, housing and medical treatment.
- Although the living circumstances of enslaved people in the novel’s depiction of South Carolina aren’t based on truth, all of the atrocities committed against Black people in the state are.
- The alternative to living without, as many of her new neighbors have chosen, is to take on debt in the form of “scrip,” which was a primitive type of shop credit that was popular in the 1800s.
- In South Carolina’s working class, textile mills were a major employment from the late nineteenth century through the mid-20th century, especially during the Great Depression.
- What was left over was almost never provided to them in cash.
- As a result of finding that the state of South Carolina is forcefully sterilizing Black people and utilizing them for medical research, Cora resolves to flee.
- The statute that made such sterilizations possible remained on the books until 1985, and South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges issued a public apology for “decades of sorrow and anguish inflicted by eugenics” in 2003, according to the Associated Press.
- The Post and Courier reported in 2017 that Dr.
J. Marion Sims, dubbed “South Carolina’s most infamous physician” for his experiments on enslaved women in the 1840s, performed up to 30 unanesthetized vaginal surgeries on each of his victims and kept them at his makeshift hospital for the duration of their treatment, which could last for years.
North Carolina, on the other hand, is a very different story, where being Black has been rendered functionally illegal as a result of a combination of legislative and extralegal efforts. In order to escape being discovered by night riders—white proto-Klansmen who prowl the streets in search of Black people to harass, abuse, and even murder—she is forced to take refuge in the attic of a white couple’s home. In the 1860 census, there were 30,000 free Black people residing in North Carolina, second only to the population of neighboring Virginia, which had 58,000 free Black people.
However, the state soon passed sweeping restrictions to control when a slaveholder could free an enslaved person.
During the first year after the conclusion of the Civil War, former Confederate states began drafting “Black codes,” which were a collection of legislation that restricted the rights of African-Americans.
The Thirteenth Amendment permitted — and continues to permit — governments to compel jailed prisoners to work for no compensation.
Cora’s adventures in Indiana begin in ideal fashion, as she finds herself in a tiny community of free Black people, led by a white-passing farmer who assists Cora in mending fences with the white population. Tragic events unfold as the commune is the target of a terrorist attack that results in the death of Cora’s love interest, Royal, and her subsequent captivity by Ridgeway. Although Indiana abolished slavery in 1820 and subsequently fought for the Union during the Civil War, the state retained a majority-white population during the ensuing century.
Despite the fact that Catholics were the primary target of the Indiana Klan, the KKK remained a white supremacist organization, even in states that had previously been part of the Union.
According to James H. Madison of Indiana University, a Klan member’s so-called “100 percent American identity” depended on their being a white, native-born, English-speaking Protestant who was raised in the United States.
Cora’s adventures in Indiana begin in ideal fashion, as she finds herself in a tiny group of free Black people, led by a white-passing farmer who assists Cora in mending fences with the white community. Tragic events unfold as the commune is the target of a terrorist attack that results in the death of Cora’s love interest, Royal, and her subsequent captivity by Ridgeway and his team. In reality, Indiana abolished slavery in 1820 and subsequently fought for the Union during the Civil War, but the state retained a majority-white population despite these achievements.
The Klan was remained a white supremacist group, even in states that had previously been part of the Union, despite the fact that Catholics were its major target.
Madison of Indiana University points out that the so-called “100 percent American identity” of a Klan member was contingent upon the person’s being a white Protestant who was born in the United States and spoke English.
The true story behind The Underground Railroad
When author Colson Whitehead writes the novel The Underground Railroad, he ingeniously makes literal the metaphorical network of the Underground Railroad, the 19th century network of clandestine channels and safe houses established by abolitionists to assist enslaved people fleeing the Deep South and seeking refuge in the free states of the Northern United States. With an underground platform accessible by a trapdoor, a decaying box car being carried through subterranean tracks by a steam engine, and the presence of a semi-mythic conductor on board, Whitehead’s figurative, fantasy railroad is a work of art in its own right.
Following the epic journey of resilient heroine Cora (portrayed by Thuso Mbedu), a young enslaved girl who escapes from a plantation and discovers the underground railway, stopping off on the steam locomotive at various dangerous Southern States in a desperate bid for freedom, the story is told in flashback.
The film follows Cora as she travels across the United States.
Ridgeway, portrayed by Joel Edgerton, is a persistent slave catcher who is determined to bring Cora back to the plantation from which she fled.
Amazon In spite of the fact that the first episode of The Underground Railroadfeatures depictions of torture and punishment that are graphic and violent, Jenkins is said to have softened Whitehead’s pages, which are soaked in trauma and brutality, in order to avoid creating something exploitative or triggering for viewers.
I’m hoping that it will help to re-contextualize rather than perpetuate prejudices about my ancestors that have been permitted to endure over the years of research.”
The true story of the Underground Railroad
Because of the growing opposition to slavery in the early 1800s, sympathetic parties began to develop and organize a secret network to assist enslaved people in their escape from the Deep South and into the free states of the North – or, for those who didn’t trust America, into free Canada – through the Underground Railroad. It is believed that the network has assisted over 100,000 persons in their attempts to flee slavery (BBC). It is believed that the railroad was most active between 1810 and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1862, and that its members included “conductors,” who guided fugitive people on the run, and “stationmasters,” who hid the absconders in schoolhouses or their homes, which were code named “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots,” respectively.
- The vast majority of the operators led regular lives as farmers, teachers, business owners or clergy.
- After escaping from a plantation in Maryland in 1849, Tubman returned multiple times to save the lives of fellow fugitives from slavery.
- Colson Whitehead describes the history of the Underground Railroad and how it served as inspiration for the plot of his award-winning novel, The Underground Railroad.
- This became known as the Underground Railroad because people would disappear and their masters would never see them again, and then someone said, ‘It’s like so and so disappeared on an underground railroad,'” explains the author.
Some people who were never taught the correct terminology still believe that there is a literal railroad beneath Earth, but it seemed like a quirky, interesting premise for a book if there was an actual network beneath the Earth, beneath America, and that a slave used it to travel north.” “It became the term of choice for this network of people, and some people who were never taught the correct terminology still believe that there is a literal railroad beneath Earth.” Colson Whitehead is an American author and poet.
Awakening is a work by Simone Padovani.
They often plotted their escape at night, with the North Star as their only source of navigation and guidance.
The Fugitive Slave Act
It was initially passed in the Deep South in 1793 and gave local governments the authority to “apprehend and extradite recapture and return escapees from inside the limits of free states back to their point of origin” (History). Those who sought to assist their escape were subjected to severe punishment by their masters. Bounty hunters who converted to slave catchers, such as the vicious Ridgeway in Whitehead’s novel, made a lucrative profession out of capturing Cora and returning her to a plantation in Georgia as a result of this conduct.
Originally passed in 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was intended to strengthen the existing legislation, which citizens in the southern states believed was not being effectively enforced.
Some Underground Railroad conductors migrated to Canada in order to greet and assist the fugitives in their new home.
After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, it was announced that “all individuals kept as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforth shall be free.” This was approximately the time that the subterranean railroad had ceased operations, and the results of its labor were brought to light as a visible aspect of the Union fight against the Confederacy.
Tubman played a crucial part in the rescue of the newly freed enslaved people as she directed intelligence operations and served as a commanding officer in Union Army operations – becoming the first woman in US history to do so – and became the first woman to command a military expedition (The National Geographic).
In Jenkins’ words, “slavery is a historical fact that we don’t want to face because of the shame and trauma associated with it.” “It’s almost like it’s something America tries to hide, and this program gives us a chance to see individuals for who they really are.” This endeavor took place during a period in which the phrase “Make America Great Again” was popular.
The show’s creators believe that “there has to be some kind of vacuum or void” because “if you can say ‘Make America Great Again,’ you have plainly failed to accept what America was and has been for centuries.” On Friday, May 14th, The Underground Railroadwill be available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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Colson Whitehead tells the story behind the ‘Underground Railroad’
While in fourth grade, Colson Whitehead heard about the Underground Railroad, an initiative to assist slaves in the nineteenth century in their journey from slavery to freedom through a network of people, routes, and houses. Whitehead was under the impression that the railroad was a real railroad, with trains surreptitiously running on rails in subterranean tunnels to transport slaves to freedom, which was not the case. His teacher corrected him, but the image of the incident remained in his memory.
- According to him, the plot would have a protagonist who would go north on a true subterranean train, stopping in each state along the route and encountering some fresh adventure.
- Although the concept intrigued him, he was terrified by it and didn’t feel he was ready to explore it in a novel, either from a technical or emotional aspect.
- Each time, he came to the conclusion that he was not yet prepared to do honor to the subject.
- When he began thinking about his next novel three years ago, he finally had the courage to share his thoughts with people.
- The answer was overwhelmingly positive and convincing: it was time to start writing the manuscript.
- Among many other distinctions, the book was named the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence from the American Library Association, as well as a pick for Oprah Winfrey’s elite book club.
- The lecture took place at the Lecture Hall of the James Branch Cabell Library.
An actual railroad, underground
It is the story of Cora, a teenage slave who escapes from her Georgia plantation with her companion, Caesar, and travels north via an underground railway system composed of tracks and tunnels, as told by Whitehead in his novel The Underground Railroad. Cora and Caesar are pursued by a merciless slave-catcher throughout their journey, and they must overcome a lot of obstacles and hazards. Whitehead employs a huge cast of people and alternates between a selection of them in order to convey their viewpoints and inner lives, while never losing sight of Cora’s horrific escape from the house.
- Jones’ “The Known World,” and Charles Johnson’s “Middle Passage” before entering into his own work.
- Toni Morrison is “an extraordinary intellect,” he stated, adding that he “can’t really compete with that.” “It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about; all that matters is that you have something unique to say about the subject,” he said.
- During the course of writing the novel, Whitehead discovered that he became increasingly obsessed with making a work that was sufficient to approximate the experiences that his ancestors and other slaves had gone through.
- As a result of the subject matter, the book is cruel, although Whitehead maintains that it represents “just a ten-millionth of one percent of what they truly went through.” “I knew that this was something my family had to go through,” Whitehead added.
- I have no idea what they were working on, how they lived, or how they suffered.
I did everything I could to testify on their behalf and on behalf of other persons who had been subjected to slavery. The bigger concern was the combination of the fear of losing my influence and the fear of attempting to portray the actual reality and severity of what my family went through.”
‘In some ways, we haven’t come far’
Whitehead claims that if he had written the work when he was younger, the outcome would have been drastically different. For example, the fanciful aspects would have been larger and displayed more prominently in the front if the changes had been made. He said that one of the states was initially intended to take place in the future. The spectacular was instead turned down from “a Spinal Tappian 11 down to 1,” as he put it. The train has shifted from being the focal point of the plot to becoming a vital instrument for transporting Cora from one state to another.
In fact, “the final 20 pages are the greatest writing I’ve ever done,” says the author.
His observations of the parallels have grown stronger since then, and he has begun to recognize certain justifications that slaveowners and slavecatchers used for their harsh, heavy-handed practices — even when dealing with freed blacks — in the language that is used today to justify race-based discriminatory practices.
Early forays into writing
In addition to talking about his current work, Whitehead reflected on his childhood and the route that lead him to becoming an author, frequently with the shrewd timing of a seasoned stand-up comic, which was a treat for the audience. “I was a little bit of a shut-in,” he recounted of his upbringing in New York City. I would have wanted to have been born as a sickly child, but that did not turn out to be the case. Whenever you read a biography of someone such as James Joyce, it will mention that they were a sickly child who was forced to retire into a realm of imagination.
Instead, I just didn’t care for going out in the cold.” Even as a kid, Whitehead saw the allure of a career in writing.
‘In sixth grade, I realized that writing X-Men or Spiderman comic books might be a rewarding career.’ If you were a writer, you could work from the comfort of your own home, without having to dress or interact with others.
In his own words, “I really wanted to write the black “Shining” or the black “Salem’s Lot,” as Whitehead put it.
That’s essentially what I intended to do.” As he broadened his reading interests, Whitehead came across writers who were able to incorporate elements of genre into literary fiction in a way that he found exciting and that drew strong connections to the science fiction and horror that he had grown up reading.
According to him, these authors were just as much a part of the fantastic as any other genre writer.
Although Whitehead considered himself a writer in college, he didn’t actually sit down and write anything, which is obviously an important part of the process, according to Whitehead.
Finally, I summoned up the energy to compose two five-page epics, which I used as auditions for creative writing workshops, for which I was rejected by both of the institutions where I applied.
“I was in a condition of complete devastation, which served as excellent training for my future career as a writer.”
‘I got back to work’
Following graduation from college, Whitehead worked for five years at the Village Voice, a New York-based alternative newspaper. Growing Pains” and “Who’s the Boss?” were the seasons finales of two television sitcoms that he wrote about for his first published piece of writing. He feels certain that his essay was “the definitive piece” on those two occurrences, and he expressed his confidence in his article. Eventually, Whitehead found the courage to return to writing fiction. His debut novel, “I’m Movin’ In,” was the narrative of a “Gary Coleman-esque” kid star of a successful sitcom, which was based on a true story.
- They all declined to participate.
- According to Whitehead, “you are a microbe in the buttocks of an elephant, simply trying to get the elephant’s attention.” As he reviewed the mountain of rejection letters he had received, Whitehead reflected about his future as a writer.
- He then went on to create a scenario in which being a writer for him could be traced back to the first Neanderthal who wondered “hunting and collecting, gathering and hunting.” It was a hilarious detour that Whitehead used to illustrate his point.
- “As a result, I returned to work.
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