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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – The issue of slavery in America is still a touchy subject for many to discuss but the topic has made headlines lately with the release of Quentin Tarantino’s film “Django Unchained”. The movie is a fictional tale about a former slave’s journey to free his wife.

Director Quentin Tarantino recently won a Golden Globe award for his latest release “Django Unchained”. It’s a modern-day western about a freed slave, portrayed by actor Jamie Foxx, who’s fighting for his wife’s freedom. The movie has opened up dialogue about a dark part of American history.

“If you happen to be an African American, your talking about your ancestors. If you happen to be a white American, your talking about your ancestors, especially if you’re from the South. So whenever the term “slavery” comes up, it’s really not about the institution of slavery. It’s about our difficulty confronting the subject of race,” says Dr. Stephen Middleton, history professor of African American Studies at Mississippi State.

American slavery was officially ended with Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Award-winning Director Steven Spielberg also recently released the film “Lincoln”. It depicts the efforts made by President Lincoln to end slavery. Historical films like “Lincoln” and “Django Unchained” have attempted to give audiences another look at the realities of slavery.

“Django Unchained” brings up a lot of feelings for people. It’s precisely because of this notion of agency. Regardless of who you are, if you are an American, I doubt that you think about slavery and the enslavement of black people as Africans, once again, acting as agents, making choices, pursuing freedom. “Django Unchained” then reveals an African American, a black man, who is exercising agency the moment he gets the opportunity. The moment his chains were dropped, the moment he had an opportunity to hunt for his wife, he did so,” says Middleton.

Dr. Middleton says that films like “Django Unchained” can be instrumental in dispelling the notion that African slaves had no sense of identity or purpose. He also says that the movie offers all Americans an opportunity to begin a new dialogue about race relations in our country.

“Django Unchained” and “Lincoln” have both been nominated for Academy Awards this year.

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  • JP

    Django Unchained is a fictional story, however, it depicts a great deal of reality concerning the truth about African Americans as a people in the sense that there are many stories of African Americans who were slaves or former slaves who went back for the wife or family they loved. In reading a recent book which more accurately details African American history, I’ve found many stories & accounts of brave people who returned for family, escaped with family, escaped with children, or babies in the arms to reach freedom. Many of whom went to Canada or went to other states, some who even left the country for other countries like England or France. Many uprisings took place where enslavers were slaughtered, however, whites who were Quakers, or against slavery, or even poor whites were spared, because they were not seen as an enemy. African Americans have a proud history that has been hidden, and much of that history does involve loyal friends who were white and who detested the institution of slavery. It would be great if history books depicted our true American history. It is certainly time to talk about these issues.

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