PBS’ 3-part, 3-hour American Experience film titled The Abolitionists, continues tonight with Part 2, after last Tuesday’s broacast debut.
The mini-series will finish off next week Tuesday, with Part 3, during its standard 9pm-10pm time slot.
The film (which is a combo scripted/acted and documentary sequences) brings to life the epic struggles of the men and women who fought to end slavery, intertwining the stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown.
Fighting body and soul, they led the most important civil rights crusade in American history. What began as a pacifist movement became a fiery and furious struggle that forever changed the nation. Black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate anti-slavery activists tore the nation apart in order to form a more perfect union.
By the way, playing Frederick Douglass in the scripted scenes is Richard Brooks.
PBS has released a 15-minute preview of tonight’s episode, which will focus primarily on Frederick Douglass, and it’s embedded below.
First, here’s the description of Part 2:
Part Two – In 1838, Frederick Douglass escaped slavery, eventually joining William Lloyd Garrison in the anti-slavery movement. In the North, Douglass became a powerful orator, and reached tens of thousands more with the 1845 publication of his autobiography. When threatened with capture by his former owner, Douglass fled to England, where he experienced life as a free man for the first time. Returning to the U.S. in 1847, he launched his own anti-slavery paper, The North Star, out of Rochester, New York, causing a rift with his mentor Garrison. Later that year, John Brown met with Douglass in Springfield, Massachusetts, and revealed his radical plan to raise an army, supply them with arms, and free the slaves. Douglass did not share Brown’s enthusiasm for such violent tactics. In 1852, following the tragic death of her own young son and moved by the plight of slave families being torn apart by the Fugitive Slave Law, Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin. An instant best seller that became wildly successful as a play, this influential fictional story helped change the hearts and minds of millions of Americans by depicting slavery through the eyes of its victims. In the spring of 1854, fugitive slave Anthony Burns was held in Boston’s city jail, where he became a focal point for both pro- and anti-slavery advocates. Angry Bostonians attempted to free him, but President Franklin Pierce, an ardent Southern sympathizer, sent in the military to escort him to a ship in the harbor and eventually back to enslavement. All the attempts at compromise and resolution had only deepened the divide between North and South, touching off a crisis that was about to careen out of control.
Watch the 15-minute preview below (and if you haven’t seen part 1, you can watch it HERE):