When the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, over four million Americans, who had heretofore been un-free in a free land, were given their freedom. But freedom was all they were given. This four-part series will examine the fate of African Americans after the Civil War. The film will examine in depth the much-misunderstood period of Reconstruction, when the Federal Government sought to enforce civil rights in the vanquished Confederacy. It will look at Reconstruction’s bloody and little-known collapse, as Jim Crow and lynching and the KKK came to govern the daily lives of blacks in America. It will focus on the pernicious effect of the Supreme Court’s infamous Plessy v. Ferguson decision and its doctrine of “separate but equal” facilities for African Americans.
The film will also examine in detail four very different black leaders: Booker T. Washington, who urged “accommodation” with whites; W.E.B. Du Bois, who urged blacks to build their own institutions; Marcus Garvey, the erratic leader who sometimes championed a return to Africa for his people; and Ida B. Wells, the muckraking journalist and fiery activist for both civil rights and women’s rights. The film will end as African Americans, fresh from heroic service in WWI, begin to leave the South. Over the next several decades they collectively form a great migration that will take them to new homes—and new unexpected challenges—in the North.
Emancipation to Exodus is scheduled to be released in 2026. (8 hours)