‘Underground’: A Story Of Black Triumph
Racism, segregation and social engineering have been topics of discussion within American society for as long as we can remember. In more recent times we’ve witnessed a great number of fatalities among black and brown youth, men and women at the hands of the very people appointed to protect and serve our communities. The current onslaught of police brutality spawned movements like Black Lives Matter and fueled an uprising of peoples in the Dream Defenders.
In the wake of these historical events, writers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, creators of hit-series Heroes, join forces in the first and only television series centered on the success stories of the Underground Railroad. The dynamic duo teamed up with director Anthony Hemingway, who is known for his work in Trueblood and The Wire, so that together they could convey a story about black triumph as opposed to the hackneyed slave race trope used in popular culture.
The details pertaining to the Underground Railroad in our history books are less than dense, which perhaps contribute to the invention of the”Africanist persona” in the American literary landscape, as Toni Morrison describes in Playing in the Dark. A film on those who successfully completed the trip has never-before been produced. In a climate riddled with anti-black rhetoric, what better timing than now to hear about such victories?
The creators behind the series put faces to the revolutionaries of the Underground Railroad, while utilizing the contemporary sounds of hip-hop to bridge the gap. The motive to transcend this narrative is obvious with a cast that includes Aldis Hodge from Straight Outta Compton and Jurnee Smollett-Bell from The Great Debaters. It is expertly orchestrated to reach a millennial and perhaps younger demographic. “The spirit of revolution that [Noah and Rosalee] carry is no different from the youth that are out there right now marching, saying we matter,” said Smollett-Bell to VIBE.
Catch Underground on WGN, March 9 at 10 p.m. EST. Don’t miss our exclusive talk with the cast of Underground in the video above, courtesy of SeJoe Entertainment.