Bassett Vance Productions, a production company formed by legendary Black actors Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, is about to hit us with a new docuseries aimed at teaching the truth about our history of slavery and its impact on Black people and societies in the U.S. and across the globe.
But this won’t just be a story about the past, it will also explore how that past has framed the present and continues to shape the future.
MTV Entertainment Studios and Smithsonian Channel announced Wednesday that its upcoming four-part series, One Thousand Years of Slavery, will not only highlight the time when Black people were regarded as nothing more than some white man’s property, but it will touch on the lived experiences of Black people in the present by spotlighting the deeply personal stories of some of today’s Black leaders and public figures such as Senator Cory Booker, actor David Harewood and Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Lonnie G. Bunch III.
“As an executive producer on One Thousand Years of Slavery, Bassett Vance Productions wanted to tell the globally comprehensive history of slavery,“ Bassett said, according to a press release announcing the project. “Finding the right partner and audience who share common beliefs and values was absolutely imperative as we navigate a topic that still hurts decades later. One Thousand Years of Slavery stretches the canvas beyond the 400 years we think we’ve traditionally learned about and I am thrilled to bring this storytelling to life with Smithsonian Channel.”
And because Black oppression is and ahas always been a global phenomenon, the project also won’t be limited to America’s history of slavery. Instead, the series will take us on a trip from Africa to the Caribbean, London to Washington D.C. and beyond.
Now, there are those, especially in America, who will say “the past is the past” and that slavery was so long ago it’s not worth exploring anymore. According to the project’s director, British-Nigerian historian, writer and film maker David Olusoga, those people—who are wrong, fragile and likely melanin non-blessed—are badly in need of this history lesson.
“Slavery is not that long ago,” Olusoga said. “It’s really recent. It’s painfully close to us, and it’s no surprise it’s still shaping our societies. Our aim is to break away from just seeing the slave trade as a phenomena that exists after the conquest and discovery of the New World, but to look back. It’s to set what happened in the New World in context, that it came from somewhere.”
Watch a first look below:
We love it that Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance are producing such incredibly powerful projects. They’ve created an incredible impact with their work as actors and are also building a legacy as producers.