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Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003)

When the Civil War ended in 1865, more than four million slaves were set free. Over 70 years later, the memories of some 2,000 slave-era survivors were transcribed and preserved by the ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Narrator
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader
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Reader (as LaTanya Richardson)
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Reader
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Storyline

When the Civil War ended in 1865, more than four million slaves were set free. Over 70 years later, the memories of some 2,000 slave-era survivors were transcribed and preserved by the Library of Congress. These first-person anecdotes, ranging from the brutal to the bittersweet, have been brought to vivid life, featuring the on-camera voices of over a dozen top African-American actors. Written by Ulf Kjell Gür

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In their words, our shared history.

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Documentary

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January 2003 (USA)  »

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All Americans should see this.
28 March 2005 | by See all my reviews

I went to the trouble of registering at this site just so I could disagree with the previous reviewer. I think this is a fantastic document. If it causes people to look with sorrow and anger at the immoral behavior of slaveholders, well - it should.

I also disagree vehemently with people who say: "this should be seen especially by African-Americans." I think it should be seen especially by white Americans because the slave experience, now that all the eye-witnesses are long dead, is in danger of being forgotten. I am a Jew and feel fearful about the death of the last Holocaust survivors. Already there are people saying it never happened. So, too, with the horrors of slavery. But within this DVD are the voices, real and vital, of the witnesses. The WPA book series (which is available free to read on the Library of Congress site) is a priceless part of our history. Yes, I shudder with grief and rage at the behavior of the whites who participated in, condoned, or simply tolerated the treatment of blacks under slavery.

The readings are beautifully done. The actors are great and very involved in the project. The editing is exceptionally good. The music, primarily by the McIntosh County Shouters, is also great. The period photography is used to perfect effect - we can look right into those eyes and imagine what they saw. Editing is unobtrusive, that is to say that we hear the voices of the slaves undimmed by egotists on the modern end.


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