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NYS Writers Institute, February 3, 2012
7:00 p.m. Film screening and commentary | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Slavery By Another Name (2012), a new documentary based on Douglas Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book about insidious forms of forced labor that emerged in the American South following the Civil War, will be screened on Friday, February 3, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Blackmon and the film’s writer Sheila Curran Bernard will answer questions immediately following the screening. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., Blackmon will hold an informal seminar on his forthcoming memoir of growing up in the racially tense South, in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany History Department, and Documentary Studies Program.

Due to air on PBS in prime time,  Slavery by Another Name (United States, 2012, 90 minutes, color and b/w) is based on Douglas Blackmon’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the abuse of black prison laborers in the United States from the end of the Civil War through the middle of the 20th century.

The film is one of only 16 documentaries (out of thousands of entries) selected for the upcoming 2012 Sundance Film Festival competition.

UAlbany Documentary Studies Professor Sheila Curran Bernard wrote the script for the film. The film’s director is award-winning television editor and producer Samuel Pollard. Blackmon and Curran Bernard will provide commentary and answer questions immediately after the screening.

Douglas BlackmonDouglas Blackmon, journalist and independent historian, received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008). The book reveals how American corporations—particularly the coal, steel, timber, railroad, turpentine and brick industries—benefited from wage-free black convict labor for almost a century. Flimsy charges and petty offenses, including gambling, loitering and even “bastardy,” were used to justify arrest and imprisonment in Southern states that profited enormously from leasing convicts to the private sector. “Convict slaves” were not only shackled, but frequently beaten and worked to death.

In awarding the prize, the Pulitzer committee called the book, “a precise and eloquent work that examines a deliberate system of racial suppression and that rescues a multitude of atrocities from virtual obscurity.” Writing in the New York Times, Janet Maslin said, “Douglas A. Blackmon eviscerates one of our schoolchildren’s most basic assumptions: that slavery in America ended with the Civil War…. The torment that Mr. Blackmon catalogs is, if anything, understated here. But it loudly and stunningly speaks for itself.”

Until recently the Atlanta Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, Blackmon has been that paper’s Senior National Correspondent since 2009. His work on the BP disaster, together with a team of reporters and editors, earned a 2011 Pulitzer Prize nomination for national reporting.

Sheila Curran BernardSheila Curran Bernard, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker is Assistant Professor of History and Associate Director of the Documentary Studies Program at UAlbany. Her film credits include Eyes on the Prize II (1987-90) and America’s War on Poverty (1995). Her books include Archival Storytelling (with Kenn Rabin, 2008), and Documentary Storytelling (2003).

Sam Pollard’s film credits include the HBO film By The People: The Election of Barack Obama (2009), Eyes on the Prize II (1987-1990), the PBS’s American Masters film Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun (2008), and Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke (2006).

NOTE: On Friday, February 3 at 4:15 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library, Blackmon will hold an informal seminar on his current project, a memoir of growing up in the racially tense South.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620, or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.