‘Slavery By Another Name’ documentary airs tonight

A new documentary produced partly in Minnesota shows how thousands of African Americans were imprisoned on trumped-up charges after the Civil War and leased to the owners of factories, farms and mines as slave laborers.


"Slavery By Another Name" airs tonight at 8pm on PBS

MPR's Cathy Wurzer discussed the documentary, "Slavery By Another Name," with author Douglas Blackmon and producer Catherine Allen. The film is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Blackmon and was produced in conjunction with Twin Cities Public Television. It airs on PBS stations around the country tonight.

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The history most students learned was that the number of African American prisoners was due to a high crime rate among former slaves who "couldn't handle" freedom, but Blackmon said it soon became clear this was nothing more than a fabrication:

There's no evidence that that ever happened. In fact, it's the opposite. The crime waves that occurred by and large were the aftermath of the war and whites coming back from fighting in the Civil War and settling scores with people and all sorts of renegade activity that didn't involve black people at all, but they were blamed for it, and that was then used as a kind of ruse for why these incredibly brutal new legal measures then began to be put in place.

You can read the entire interview here, or listen to it by clicking on the link below. "Slavery By Another Name" airs tonight at 8 p.m. on PBS.