In recognition of Emancipation Day, CBC has announced a series of specials this summer highlighting works by Black Canadians, including an encore presentation of the screen adaptation of the bestselling novel The Book of Negroes.
Observed in Canada on Aug. 1, Emancipation Day commemorates the abolition of slavery across the British Empire.
Based on the award-winning 2007 novel of the same name by Canadian writer Lawrence Hill, the story is a portrayal of the brutal realities of the slave trade told through one woman’s life.
Aminata Diallo is kidnapped from her village in Niger and brought to South Carolina to work as a slave at the age of 11. After eventually winning her freedom, Diallo goes on to face decades of struggle and adversity, but later becomes a driving force in the abolitionist movement in Britain.
The Book of Negroes won Canada Reads 2009, championed by Canadian filmmaker and journalist Avi Lewis. Its French translation version, Aminata, also won the French-language show Le combat national des livres in 2013.
The Book of Negroes received the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
The miniseries originally premiered on CBC in January 2015 and went on to win 10 Canadian Screen Awards.
Leading into the first night of The Book of Negroes, CBC will also feature news and arts programming starting at 6:30 p.m. ET (7 NT) with CBC Arts: Exhibitionists — Reflection and Resistance hosted by broadcaster and writer Amanda Parris, dedicated to Black artists who are trying to create in the midst of an uprising.
Starting at 7 p.m. ET (7:30 NT) on the first night, investigative journalist Asha Tomlinson will present a special hour including the CBC News special, Being Black in Canada, followed by exclusive new interviews and insights with Hill and the creators and cast of the miniseries.
CBC will also launch a new website called Being Black in Canada, which features the stories and experiences of Black Canadians, on July 26.
The Being Black in Canada website will showcase profiles, opinion pieces, video, audio and a range of work from across the CBC, including news, documentaries and arts.
CBC Arts will partner with Toronto actress, writer, director and producer Ngozi Paul and Emancipation Arts to present FREE UP!, the annual youth-led celebration of Emancipation Day featuring music, theatre, spoken word and dance.
Also in the entertainment lineup is Emmy Award-winning documentary series, Jackie Robinson, which tells the story of famed baseball player Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era.
The series will air Aug. 2 and Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. ET (8:30 NT) on CBC TV and CBC Gem.