Film / TV

frederick douglass is getting a spike lee joint

November 12, 2018
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Frederick Douglass is getting the Spike Lee treatment as the iconic filmmaker is set to adapt Frederick Douglass
Now, a one-man play written and performed by longtime collaborator Roger Guenver Smith (Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X and School Daze), according to Variety.

Douglass is one of the most important voices in American history. As a self-liberated slave turned anti-slavery advocate, Douglass built a reputation for himself that also included roles such as revered orator and publisher of his own newspaper the North Star.

“Smith’s one-man show begins with the actor rapping from his own text, mashing up references to slavery and contemporary life in the U.S.,” Variety reports. “The performance then segues to Smith quoting extracts from Douglass’ essays and letters, and returns to Smith’s own writing for the finale, during which he sings: ‘If there is no progress, Frederick Douglass is still alive.’”

In a perfect world, Douglass’ wisdom wouldn’t still be topical today but at least the Black American community has intellectual figures that provide frameworks for understanding their plight. These frameworks serve as bridges between past and contemporary issues that artists can use to conduct crucial conversations in their art. Perhaps Trump might also stumble across it and finally find out that Douglass has been dead for 123 years. Either way, we’re here for it.