Last week’s episode of Blackish focused on Columbus Day and why some Americans still celebrate or honor a man who really was no hero. The entire episode was powerful — and brilliantly funny, as the show always is — but it was I Am A Slave from The Roots, a song and animated video that took a page from a favorite Schoolhouse Rock video, that was eye opening.
Using the popular I’m Just a Bill tune, the Roots have created new lyrics to describe the history of slavery and Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865 — the official date that ended slavery in America, a full two years after The Emancipation Proclamation.
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My husband and I watched it with our girls, even knowing how dark the lyrics were, and we used it to open up a great family discussion.
We talked about why we still celebrate men like Christopher Columbus with federal holidays but don’t acknowledge Juneteenth as a country. We talked about current topics, like Charlottesville. We talked about the peaceful #TakeaKnee protest in the NFL and why there’s so much controversy around it. And we talked about why the topics of slavery and racism are still sadly relevant today.
It was a remarkable talk, and I hope that more parents will watch I Am a Slave with their older kids.
Despite how uncomfortable it may be.
Because of how uncomfortable it may be.
I know It’s not easy to bring up any sad or horrible topics with our kids. But they can handle it. And I believe we owe it to our children to teach them the truth about the lowest points in our nation’s history.
When we don’t, history repeats itself.
You can watch The Roots I Am A Slave video on YouTube and watch the entire Juneteenth episode of Blackish — which also includes some fantastic Hamilton-inspired musical numbers — on ABC.