Common has set his latest project under his overall deal at Lionsgate TV.
He’ll adapt the recent Zora Neale Hurston book Barracoon. Lionsgate TV and Common recently acquired the rights to develop the book as a limited series.
A work of non-fiction and based on interviews from 1927, Barracoon went unpublished until 2017.
Here’s the official description from the book publisher:
Eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, a survivor of the Clotilda, the last slaver known to have made the transatlantic journey. Illegally brought to the United States, Cudjo was enslaved fifty years after the slave trade was outlawed. At the time, Cudjo was the only person alive who could recount this integral part of the nation’s history. As a cultural anthropologist, Hurston was eager to hear about these experiences firsthand. But the reticent elder didn’t always speak when she came to visit. Sometimes he would tend his garden, repair his fence, or appear lost in his thoughts. During an intense three-month period, Hurston and Cudjo communed over her gifts of peaches and watermelon, and gradually Cudjo, a poetic storyteller, began to share heartrending memories of his childhood in Africa; the attack by female warriors who slaughtered his townspeople; the horrors of being captured and held in the barracoons of Ouidah for selection by American traders; the harrowing ordeal of the Middle Passage aboard the Clotilda as “cargo” with more than one hundred other souls; the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War; and finally his role in the founding of Africatown. Barracoon employs Hurston’s skills as both an anthropologist and a writer, and brings to life Cudjo’s singular voice, in his vernacular, in a poignant, powerful tribute to the disremembered and the unaccounted. This profound work is an invaluable contribution to our history and culture.
A manuscript of the book was at Howard University for more than 50 years before the book was published.
This is Common’s second project under his Lionsgate deal, the first being an adaptation of The Saturday Night Knife & Gun Club.
This would only be the second Hurston project to make it to the screen. The first was an adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God, a 2005 ABC TV film starring Halle Berry, Ruby Dee, Michael Ealy and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.