Radicals. Agitators. Troublemakers. Liberators. Called by many names,the abolitionists tore the nation apart in order to create a more perfect union. Men and women, black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate anti-slavery activists fought body and soul in the most important civil rights crusade in American history.
What began as a pacifist movement fueled by persuasion and prayer became a fiery and furious struggle that forever changed the nation. Bringing to life the intertwined stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown, The Abolitionists takes place during some of the most violent and contentious decades in American history, amid white-hot religious passions that set souls on fire, and bitter debates over the meaning of the Constitution and the nature of race.
It reveals how the movement shaped history by exposing the fatal flaw of a republic founded on liberty for some and bondage for others, setting the nation on a collision course. In the face of personal risks — beatings, imprisonment, even death — abolitionists held fast to their cause, laying the civil rights groundwork for the future and raising weighty constitutional and moral questions that are with us still.
Vividly bringing to life the epic struggles of the men and women who ended slavery, The Abolitionists interweaves drama with traditional documentary storytelling. Directed by Rob Rapley, The Abolitionists stars Richard Brooks, Neal Huff, Jeanine Serralles, Kate Lyn Sheil, and T. Ryder Smith, and will premiere as a special presentation in three parts on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Tuesdays, January 8-22, 2013 from 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).