HBO has announced the upcoming documentary Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches, which will premiere on Feb. 23rd.
The documentary will bring to life the words of the renowned anti-slavery activist’s history. Actors Nicole Beharie, Colman Domingo, Jonathan Majors, Denzel Whitaker and Jeffrey Wright “will interpret and draw from some of Frederick Douglas’s “most important speeches that will represent specific moments in the 19th century America and the radical changes that the country will undergo.”
Douglass escaped slavery in the 19th century at the age of 20, ultimately becoming one of the most influential men in American history during one of the countries most tumultuous time periods.
According to the network, “the documentary will also celebrate the life and accomplishments of Douglass, showing a complete picture of the man himself.”
Here is the official description of the 'Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches':
FREDERICK DOUGLASS: IN FIVE SPEECHES offers a new approach to understanding Douglass’ story, guided entirely by his own words about this country’s struggle for Black freedom and equality. Together with his autobiographies, the writings chart Douglass’ rise from a passionate young agitator to a composed statesman, and ultimately to a disenchanted but still hopeful older man.
David Blight, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Sarah Lewis and Keidrick Roy, contextualized Douglass’ words. Also, artist Bisa Butler, poet Nzadi Keita, and Douglass descendant Ken Morris offer perspective on Douglass’ modern relevance and will put into focus the enormity of his fame in the 19th century and the amount of influence he garnered.
The documentary is inspired by Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom."
- “I Have Come To Tell You Something About Slavery” (1841) performed by Denzel Whitaker. At an anti-slavery convention, Douglass recounts his story of being raised as a slave publicly for the first time.
- “Country, Conscience, And The Anti-Slavery Cause” (1847) performed by Jonathan Majors. Douglass addresses the American Anti-Slavery Society on his return from the British Isles which he found to be more accepting and equitable than his own country.
- “What, To The Slave, Is The Fourth Of July?” (1852) performed by Nicole Beharie. Douglass reminds his audience of the continuing enslavement of his people, 76 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- “The Proclamation And A Negro Army” (1863) performed by Colman Domingo. Douglass responds to the Emancipation Proclamation and calls for the Black man to be allowed to fight in the war.
- “Lessons Of The Hour” (1894) performed by Jeffrey Wright. Douglass urges America to eliminate prejudice and look to its founding principles.