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Slavery By Another Name

Airs Monday, February 13, 2012 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Historical photo of four convict laborers in shackles.

"Slavery By Another Name" challenges one of America's most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. This documentary tells a harrowing story of how in the South, even as chattel slavery came to an end, new forms of involuntary servitude, including convict leasing, debt slavery and peonage, took its place with shocking force -- brutalizing and ultimately circumscribing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans well into the 20th century.

Man oversees convict laborers at work.
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Above: Man oversees convict laborers at work.

Historical photo of a man tied to pickaxe.
Enlarge this image

Above: Historical photo of a man tied to pickaxe.

Map and Timeline of Slavery in America

Learn more about slavery after the Civil War by scrolling through the timeline and map. Points on the map include photos, videos and more information about key dates in United States history.

It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold and coerced to do the bidding of masters.

The program spans eight decades, from 1865 to 1945, revealing the interlocking forces in both the South and the North that enabled this "neoslavery" to begin and persist.

Using archival photographs and dramatic re-enactments, filmed on location in Alabama and Georgia, it tells the forgotten stories of both victims and perpetrators of neoslavery and includes interviews with their descendants living today.

The program also features interviews with Douglas Blackmon, author of the Pulitzer Prize- winning book "Slavery by Another Name" and with leading scholars of this period. Actor Laurence Fishburne (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” Thurgood) narrates.

For most Americans this is entirely new history. "Slavery by Another Name" gives voice to the largely forgotten victims and perpetrators of forced labor and features their descendants living today.

“The Thirteenth Amendment states that slavery was abolished, except as a punishment for a crime,” says author and co-executive producer Blackmon. “So across the South, laws were passed to criminalize everyday African-American life. It was a crime for a black man to walk beside a railroad, to speak loudly in the company of white women, to do someone’s laundry without a license, to sell cotton after dark. But the most damaging statutes were around vagrancy. If you couldn’t prove your employment at any moment, you were a criminal.”

Starting February 14, 2012, the entire documentary will be available for online viewing. "Slavery By Another Name" is on Facebook.

Video

Preview: Slavery By Another Name

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Watch Slavery by Another Name Clip on PBS. See more from Slavery by Another Name.

Above: A Sundance Film Festival selection for 2012, this documentary based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Wall Street Journal senior writer Douglas A. Blackmon, explores the little-known story of the post-Emancipation era and the labor practices and laws that effectively created a new form of slavery in the South that persisted well into the 20th century.

Video

About the Film: Slavery By Another Name

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Watch The Bricks We Stand On on PBS. See more from Slavery by Another Name.

Above: Douglas A. Blackmon shares how the project "Slavery by Another Name" evolved.

Video

The Making of Slavery By Another Name

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Watch The Making of SLAVERY on PBS. See more from Slavery by Another Name.