Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson stars in BBC Two Documentary series 'Enslaved' as part of Black History Month
The four-part documentary series investigates the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and sees Samuel L Jackson joined by Journalists Afua Hirsch and Simcha Jacobovici in an exploration across the world to uncover more about how the trans-Atlantic slave trade worked and what happened to those who were enslaved.
It's fair to say there is already a large number of existing documentaries about the slave trade, however this four-part series provides a unique and fresh perspective. There is a personal touch throughout the documentary which was established from the outset as it begins with Jackson tracing his family tree, which brought about the narrative that Jackson was eager to search for answers about his ancestry and his past rather than the documentary feeling like a collection of impersonal information, which perhaps may not have grabbed viewers quite as much. Some critics even pointing out that Jackson shows a different side of himself in the series which the public perhaps haven't seen so much of previously.
So far two out of the four episodes have aired (if you missed the first two episodes you can catch up on BBC iPlayer) and already so many shocking discoveries have been uncovered. The first episode showed Jackson tracing his heritage back to Gabon and saw him and the team travel to the region to see "where his enslaved ancestors were shipped in their millions to the Americans." We are then told the story of not only those who survived but also the story of the 2 million Africans who died on route and are presented with some fascinating new discoveries as they team up with a group of underwater investigators, where they find a 350-year-old wreck of an unidentified slave ship. The second episode then focussed on "how for over 400 years, the trans-Atlantic slave trade became the greatest wealth-generating machine the world had known and the engine that drove the global economy."
The first two episodes also showcased other shocking discoveries including horrific sexual violence the women who were enslaved would have suffered. In a conversation with Samuel when in a church in Ghana where slaves were held, Afua described "One of the things I think is most upsetting is the kind of sexual abuse that happened here. So in the governor’s bedroom, there’s a trap door in the floor and it leads through some ladders directly down into the women’s dungeon. One of them would be selected and walked straight up to the officer’s bedroom, washed because they were kept in a state of filth down there and then he would rape her and he would have free access to these women and girls."
The documentary has so far been labelled both educational and insightful and is the perfect series to watch if you're wanting to take time out this Black History Month to learn more about some of the devastating horrors the Black community have faced throughout history.
You can catch the documentary series on BBC Two on Sundays at 9pm!
Watch the trailer for 'Enslaved' by clicking here