February 11, 2012 - 5 minute read

Rodney & Etter, LLC has a long history of supporting civil rights and promoting justice and equality for all throughout Louisiana, with the firm taking on a major pro bono case annually.  For us, civil rights, justice and equality are not just a job, it a passion!  Starting this month, we will be highlighting movies, television shows and documentaries, and books that Roy Rodney and John Etter recommend for their portrayal of the legal system, injustice, and the struggle for civil rights in this country. 

This month we are pleased to recommend the upcoming PBS special, “Slavery by Another Name,” by award-winning director, Sam Pollard and based on the book of the same name by Douglas A. Blackmon.   The book, subtitled The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II, was awarded the 2009 Pulizer Prize for general non-fiction.  The book also received the 2009 American Book Award, the 2009 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Non-fiction Book Prize, and the 2008 Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Award, among others.  New Orleanians know Sam Pollard as the editor of the Spike Lee documentary, “When the Levees Broke

The premiere of Slavery by Another Name is scheduled for Monday, February 13.  In New Orleans, the documentary will air on WYES, Channel 12 beginning at 8:00 pm.  We encourage everyone to watch the documentary and let us know what you think.  Comment here or email us at intouch@RodneyandEtter.com.  We’ll collect the comments and post them back on the blog.

The following summary of the show is courtesy of our good friend, Regina Waynes Joseph:

“Slavery By Another Name,” a new PBS documentary, challenges the widely accepted notion: that slavery in America came to a halt with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film shows that while chattel slavery ended in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pushed into forced labor that exposed them to brutality, abuse and death.
As narrator Laurence Fishburne says introducing the film, African Americans “were no longer slaves, but not yet free.” Men were arrested, forced to work without pay, and were mistreated by cruel masters. The system of forced labor took place in the North and South, and lasted into the 20th century.
“It could have been different and should have been different,” said Douglas A. Blackmon during a session during the PBS portion of the first day of the Television Critics Assn. press tour. Blaming the government, Blackmon called the continuation of slavery “an astonishing failure of modern society.”  He added, “It’s a story of how America failed,” showing how whites had lost faith that blacks could be fully integrated into the mainstream.
Descendants of slave owners and slaves participated in the film. Susan Tuggle Barone, who spoke during the session, told of learning how her great-grandfather John Williams killed 11 black laborers who were held illegally on his farm. It was a long-buried secret in her family.
“It was devastating for my family to find out about this,” she said. “I’m glad my grandmother wasn’t alive to find out about this. But it was important to learn the truth.”
Sharon Malone, who is married to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, spoke of how her uncle was a victim of Alabama’s forced labor system. She said her family spoke little about his time growing up in the South.
She said she has no anger or bitterness about that part of her past. “In fact, I’m more grateful to my parents than I otherwise would have been,” she said. “They did not pass on that bitterness to their children. To us, they were unburdened by their past, and that gave us faith and hope. It’s something that needs to be known.”

Rodney & Etter, LLC is a legal powerhouse recognized by its peers across the US as highly knowledgeable and sought-after counsel or co-counsel with an extensive variety of courtroom experiences and an outstanding record of successful litigation and settlements for its clients.  Roy Rodney was awarded the Louisiana State Bar Association Pro Bono Award for his pro bono work on civil rights and injustice issues.

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