What ‘Lincoln’ misses another film gets right
(CNN) — He used the N-word and told racist jokes. He once said African-Americans were inferior to whites. He proposed ending slavery by shipping willing slaves back to Africa.
Meet Abraham Lincoln, “The Great Emancipator” who “freed” the slaves.
That’s not the version of Lincoln we get from Steven Spielberg’s movie “Lincoln.” But there’s another film that fills in the historical gaps left by Spielberg and challenges conventional wisdom about Lincoln and the Civil War.
“The Abolitionists” is a PBS American Experience film premièring Tuesday that focuses on the intertwined lives of five abolitionist leaders. These men and women arguably did as much — maybe even more — than Lincoln to end slavery, yet few contemporary Americans recognize their names.
The three-part documentary’s airing comes as the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1863 decree signed by Lincoln that set in motion the freeing of slaves. Lincoln is a Mount Rushmore figure today, but the abolitionists also did something remarkable. They took on the colossal wealth and political power of the slave trade, and won. (Imagine activists today persuading the country to shut down Apple and Google because they deem their business practices immoral.)
The abolitionists “forced the issue of slavery on to the national agenda,” says Sharon Grimberg, executive producer for the PBS documentary. “They made it unavoidable.”
“The Abolitionists” offers four surprising revelations about how the abolitionists triumphed, and how they pioneered many of the same tactics protest movements use today.