BET’s 3-Day ‘Book of Negroes’ Airing Earns Over 8 Million Viewers

Book of Negroes (2015) – Lyriq Bent as Chekura Tyano & Aunjanue Ellis as Aminata Diallo – 01b


Lyriq Bent as Chekura Tyano & Aunjanue Ellis as Aminata Diallo in 'Book of Negroes' (2015)

Lyriq Bent as Chekura Tyano & Aunjanue Ellis as Aminata Diallo in ‘Book of Negroes’ (2015)

BET’s three-day presentation of the Canadian mini-series Book of Negroes brought in over 8 million viewers this week.

Although some expressed skepticism of the name and its premise, many — myself included, found the series to be full of #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearnInSchool moments.

Through the story of Aminata Diallo (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon and Aunjanue Ellis), viewers saw an intelligent young Bayo girl navigating her way through womanhood during slavery, the American Revolution, and a “free” Nova Scotia which currently has over 20,000 black citizens.

Louis Gossett Jr. as Daddy Moses & Lyriq Bent as Chekura Tyano in Freetown Liberia in 'Book of Negroes' (2015)

Louis Gossett Jr. as Daddy Moses & Lyriq Bent as Chekura Tyano in Freetown Liberia in ‘Book of Negroes’ (2015)

We watched her return to African soil in newly formed Freetown, Liberia and maneuver the racial politics of London that led to the banning of slave trading in British territories.

Some of us who have seen Amma Asante‘s Belle (2014) half expected for Miss Dido Belle to appear and hug Aminata (she really needed one).

The story is based on Lawrence Hill‘s award-winning novel of the same name (known as Someone Knows My Name in the U.S.), centered on the historical document Book of Negroes.

Recorded in 1783, the 150-page document contains names and descriptions of 3,000 African-American slaves who escaped to British lines during the war and were evacuated by the British to Nova Scotia as freedmen.

Beautifully directed by Clement Virgo, the six-part televised drama also stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Samuel Fraunces, Louis Gossett, Jr. as Daddy Moses, Ben Chaplin as Cpt. John Clarkson, Allan Hawco as Solomon Lindo, and Jane Alexander as Maria Witherspoon.

The Book of Negroes was produced by Conquering Lion Pictures and Out of Africa Entertainment for CBC.

BET aired the series over three evenings starting January 16th. We’ll be on the lookout for its DVD release.

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