Amazon announced Tuesday that its upcoming array of programming will contain a series titled, “Black America,” which “envisions an alternate history where newly freed black slaves have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery and, with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny.”
From Deadline, who was first to make the announcement on behalf of Amazon:
A century and a half after slavery was abolished in the U.S., the wounds left by one of the darkest periods in American history are far from healed, as evidenced by the controversy surrounding the recent announcement of HBO’s upcoming drama series “Confederate” …
Another alternate history drama series, which has been in the works at Amazon for over a year, also paints a reality where Southern states have left the Union but takes a very different approach. Titled “Black America,” the drama hails from top feature producer Will Packer (“Ride Along,” “Think Like A Man” franchises, “Straight Outta Compton”) and Peabody-winning The Boondocks creator and Black Jesus co-creator Aaron McGruder. It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny.
The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States.
The series, effectively an alternate history resulting from a different outcome of the Civil War, is set in modern times.
“Even though the story is set in contemporary society, not post-slavery, it relies on us being factually correct in telling the story of how we got to a contemporary society where you’ve got a sovereign country that is run by black Americans,” Packer said.
Deadline reported that “Black America” is creatively spearheaded by an all-black team.
About the inspiration behind the project — and in light of HBO’s “Confederate,” which follows a post-Civil War era where slavery was not abolished — Packer said: “It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted and we are pretty far down the road with it.” He continued:
[The project] was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American. You would be hard pressed to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given. As a content creator, the fact that that is something that has been discussed thoroughly throughout various demographics of people in this country but yet never been explored to my knowledge in any real way in long-form content, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to delve into the story, to do it right.
Packer also noted that he’s still musing over the series’ message, as it’s very early in its development stages, but he thinks “there definitely is a message about how we co-exist today where that didn’t happen, there weren’t reparations, and you still have black Americans who are suffering from the effects of slavery in various ways.”
“You still have the prison-industrial complex that disproportionally imprisons black and brown people, you can trace that back for many reasons to slavery,” he said.
When asked directly about HBO’s “Confederate,” Packer said, “Slavery is far too real and far too painful, and we still see the manifestations of it today as a country for me to ever view that as a form of entertainment.”