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BET is set to air a new miniseries next year with the controversial title of The Book Of Negroes, which will depict the journey of slaves in America. The project was almost dismissed but thanks to the popularity of films like 12 Years Slave, the project was given a green light.

Canadian director Clement Virgo and his business partner Damon D’Oliveira came across author Lawrence Hill’s The Book Of Negroes book and were put off by its title. However, Virgo admitted that his earlier reaction was overblown and that the title was the proper fit. The story follows the tale of Aminata Diallo (played by Aunjanue Ellis), a woman who was kidnapped in West Africa and sold into slavery before gaining her freedom just before the 19th Century.

Virgo and D’Oliveira tried to turn the book into a film in 2010 but they were met with resistance from financial backers and large studios. However, executive producer Carrie Stein sent the project over to BET and they enjoyed the aim of the project. Helping matters was that the network just aired the classic miniseries Roots and achieved major ratings for a project that’s nearly 40 years old. The aforementioned 12 Years A Slave also helped get things moving, but Cuba Gooding, who appears in the film, explains one chief difference.

Gooding as quoted by Deadline:

“It’s told from the female perspective with a sense of empowerment.  Through Aminata’s journey we see the strength of her character. I didn’t know anything about The Book Of Negroes, or the slaves participation with the British and upon hearing this, it always upsets me when I hear about something I don’t know: Like The Tuskegee Airmen, The Book Of Negroes is another upsetting moment for African Americans, when we have made a positive impact on the building of America, but our history hasn’t been told. Hearing this tale of strength moved me.”

The Book Of Negroes will air in February. Canadian network CBC will also air the series. The film will make its debut at the MIPCOM event in France tonight.

Photo: BET/Entertainment One TV

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