I realize many folks here in the USA have had a lot to apologize for when it comes to how Blacks were treated over the last 400 years. Everyone here in America knows about slavery and practically everyone knows about the struggle for civil rights in the late 1950s and early 60s. However, I didn't realize quite the extent to which these people were mistreated in the post-Civil War South. I am a retired history teacher, but I didn't realize just how oppressive and evil the system was...and my guess is you'll feel the same way after watching this exceptional documentary.
It seems that in addition to the KKK, lynchings and 'Jim Crow' laws, there was another very insidious practice in the South that was the subject of this film--'Convict Leasing'. What is this? Well, it seems that Black men were routinely arrested for all sorts of petty crimes (such as the catch-all 'vagrancy' charge) and sentenced to work either on chain gangs or hired out as virtual slaves! There was really no need to prove the crimes (and in many cases, no crime was committed)--and it was a great revenue source for cash-strapped Southern states. In other words, to pave roads, increase tax revenue or to shut up some 'uppity' Blacks, these people would be arrested and forced to work without pay under conditions not much different from those during the days of slavery. Most shocking of all was the assertion in this film that a MINIMUM of 9000 such workers died while in custody! This is deplorable...and just plain evil.
One of the best ways to determine if you've seen a great documentary is if it teaches you something new AND if it energizes you or makes you angry. "Slavery By Another Name" was like a punch in the stomach--painful to watch and quick to make you react. In addition, the production values were exceptional and it's a fine film to show your kids--to show they just how far we've come since these wicked days.
By the way, one of the most interesting moments was when they interviewed a lady who was very proud of her Southern heritage--only to come face to face with the evils her family had committed. She was a brave woman for allowing herself to be interviewed in the film.