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Case Number 23475: Small Claims Court

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Slavery By Another Name

PBS // 2012 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 10th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson has nothing witty to say here. Yikes.

The Charge


The Case

If you thought African-American bondage ended with The Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, you'd be mistaken. Slavery by Another Name, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas A. Blackmon, peels back a few layers of American history and reveals something ugly and unnerving.

This 90-minute documentary examines the myriad ways in which individuals of low moral fiber exploited legal loopholes (and boneheaded legislative exclusions) to maintain the free human labor many of them had grown accustomed to, before Lincoln gave the Confederacy the business. Whether it was sharecropping or prisoner labor, men were doing hard work for free under the boots of their masters.

It's startling stuff, well assembled by director Sam Pollard and his team, blending interviews with historians and family members related to some of those victimized by this practice. Dramatizations and reenactments are woven in, to add further dimension to the storytelling and bring the suffering to life.

A great time investment for a grossly underreported slice of history that rightfully deserves to be told.

The DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, and a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Rough stuff, but worth watching.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Historical
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes


• IMDb

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