FILM REVIEW: “Harriet” by Mansfield Frazier

George Orwell once wrote, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history. Indeed. That’s why films depicting the lives of black heroes and sheroes are increasingly important in this age where racial revisionists are attempting to denigrate historical black accomplishment.

Certainly some persons of color would rather avoid thinking about our period of enslavement in this country because of the pain or shame it causes, and to a degree that’s understandable. But films of this caliber are helpful in terms of us making a linguistic change: While whites thought of our ancestors as slaves, in reality we were enslaved — which is a slightly different lens to view this pernicious institution through.

Harriet Tubman was such an important figure of that period of American life that she was once being considered to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, thus becoming the first woman to have their visage on U.S. currency. If the process to make the change had started earlier in the Obama administration’s term, it could have been completed before he left office. But alas, as things worked out, tRump was elected and one of his first acts was to cease any discussion regarding placing this giant of a black woman on any U.S. currency.

But nothing can diminish the greatness of Tubman’s heroic deeds. After escaping to freedom in Philadelphia she returned to the South 13 times to lead a total of 70 individuals (members of her family as well as others) to freedom earning her the sobriquet “Moses.”

Additionally, Tubman remains one of the few women in our nation’s history to lead a regiment of troops into battle. Once the Civil War started, she led a black regiment of Union soldiers on a raid at Combahee Ferry in South Carolina where 750 slaves were freed, with many of them immediately enlisting in the Union Army. At the end of the war she became one of the leading figures in the women’s suffrage movement. She truly was a superwoman of the era.

This lavishly produced and expertly directed film (with Emmy Award winner Cynthia Erivo in the title role) is important to all of us who spend our time attempting to bring about racial and social justice. Sure, what we attempt to do is sometimes hard, with rewards often being few and far between, but viewing what Harriet Tubman went though stiffens my resolve and quiets my complaints. This film is an inspiration for all of us in the down in the trenches.

Harriet is a must-see film for all of those who proclaim to love justice and freedom.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc

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