NBA veteran Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has teamed with History Channel to produce a documentary about our Black leaders from the Civil War, reported the Huffington Post. The documentary, Black Patriots: Heroes of the Civil War, will help us better understand the contributions Black Americans made toward gaining the country’s independence which are often ignored.
Since our history books neglected to acknowledge our Black soldiers, Abdul-Jabbar told HuffPost it was important to emphasize their efforts.
“We aren’t taught in schools about Black soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary and Civil wars in defense of their country, a country who continued to mistreat them when the wars were over,” the NBA Hall of Famer and bestselling author told HuffPost. “Yet, even that did not dim the intensity of their patriotism. Now we have a chance to set the record straight and Black children can take pride in their heritage.”
The one-hour documentary will detail the involvement of Black Americans in the Civil War through the profiles of Harriet Tubman, Robert Smalls, Frederick Douglass and the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment, per the History Channel website. The National Archive recorded nearly 179,000 Black men served in the Union Army and 19,000 in the Navy. Black soldiers also served in positions ranging from spies, cooks, nurses and carpenters. Tubman was a scout for volunteers in South Carolina.
“The Civil War wasn’t just fought over Black Americans, it was also fought by them,” Abdul-Jabbar said via HuffPost.
The film also emphasizes how Black Americans made a conscious effort to fight for their own liberation as soldiers in the Union army. Historians Keisha N. Blain, John Stauffer, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Christy S. Coleman and others offer insight into the war, which took place from 1861 to 1865.
It’s impossible to squeeze all of the contributions that Black Americans made during the Civil War into a single hour. But Abdul-Jabbar hopes viewers will learn something new.
“There are a lot of worthy people who we’ve had to leave out. But we tried to give a thorough overview and hopefully viewers will see the Civil War in a new, more accurate light,” he said.
We would’ve never learned about our Black heroes in school. Now that states have begun submitting legislation to ban Black history from schools, the steps taken to make sure Black people would be allowed to serve won’t even be allowed in the curriculum. How do you teach the Emancipation Proclamation or the creation of the Bureau of Colored Troops without mentioning racism?
“We’re still trying to convince Americans — white and Black — that African Americans have contributed significantly to our freedom and our culture. The fact that history books, teachers, television and movies have largely ignored Blacks is why we need shows like this,” said Abdul-Jabbar via HuffPost.
The documentary is scheduled to air Monday Feb. 21 11/10c.