Professor Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers To Take Part In March 16th Viewing & Conversation with Director Barry Jenkins at BAMPFA

February 20, 2024

An essential reckoning with America’s history of slavery, Barry Jenkins’s brilliant adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning magnum opus renders Whitehead’s uncanny, parallel-universe nineteenth-century American South with exacting realism. The series follows Cora’s flight—aided by a network of people who provide a subterranean train service for fugitives—from the Georgia plantation on which she was born enslaved and her pursuit by a relentless slave catcher.

Moving through five states, all of which suggest different eras from antebellum through reconstruction, The Underground Railroad demonstrates various forms of racist exploitation to which Black people were, and too often still are, subjected, along with the strategies of resistance and self-preservation developed in response. As Reggie Ugwu noted in the New York Times, as well as confronting the physical violence of slavery, Jenkins’s adaptation addresses “something subtler, about the psychic and emotional scourge, and the unfathomable spiritual strength required for any individual—let alone an entire people—to have come out alive."

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