One day I was watching my local PBS station and they were filling time with a short piece about local history. I think I had seen this feature (or part of it) before, it was about the Underground Railroad and the huge contributions John Rankin and John Parker (a former slave himself) made to keeping it going. This is a story I've heard many times before in various venues, including the Freedom Center right here in Cincinnati. But in this short feature, PBS tied it together with Harriet Beecher Stowe's story. They told how Rankin and Parker's stories of slaves they helped rescue were inspiration for her characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Again, none of this information was new to me.
This is what I love about stories in general. Every time a story is re-visited with an open mind, a new perspective can emerge- no matter how many times we have heard it or read it. In this case, what caught my attention was the comment that Uncle Tom's Cabin started the Civil War, which ultimately led to slavery being made illegal in the United States of America. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:
"Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States alone. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called "the most popular novel of our day." The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, "So this is the little lady who started this great war."
In this PBS feature they said that Americans in the northern states were aware that slavery existed in the south, but didn't see how it affected them and/or thought there was nothing they could do about what went on in the south. After they read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" they knew they could not let slavery continue in the south. They HAD to do something, whatever they could do to end the atrocity of slavery.
THAT is what I hope to accomplish with this documentary and the subsequent screenplay that will follow in the future. Many people are becoming aware that modern day slavery and sex slavery exists, but they don't see how it affects them or know what to do about it. This documentary will provide information to inspire and examples to motivate. This documentary will not linger on the grim reality of sex slavery. This documentary will highlight the implications of how society is involved in the perpetuation of sex trafficking and how it can greatly hinder it's progress with some simple actions.
To add impact to this experience- watching the PBS feature allude to how "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is said to have started a revolution by inspiring indifferent Northerners to take action towards ending slavery- days later I signed up for a service project that just happened to be landscaping Harriet Beecher Stowe's house here in Cincinnati. Perfect! I got to literally dig in the dirt and walk through the house where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her legendary novel.
Now, on to digging through the dirt of the current sex slavery business and making a film that will hopefully have the same impact as "Uncle Tom's Cabin."