Moving through a bitter and ongoing pandemic into the biggest surge of social justice protests, the summer of 2020 was eye opening to say the least. For the first time, possibly ever, the world was hearing the cries of the minority and took notice that we truly live in two separate Americas. In ABC’s new, six-part series “Soul of a Nation”, the audience is brought into the conversation of this American divide.
“Soul of a Nation” premiered on March 2, 2021 and has weekly episodes all focused on topics targeted to and about Black communities. The show is divided into segments of several interviews with popular TV personalities, and community leaders including anchors Byron Pitts, Sonny Hostin, and Pierre Thomas. Each episode is also led by a celebrity host to guide the audience through the discussion, some of which include Sterling K. Brown, Marsai Martin, and Bebe Winans.
In the part one premiere, “Reckonings” the conversation revolves around a capitol police officer, Harry Dunn, who was present on the January 6th insurrection. The audience is also taken to the town of Evanston, Illinois where alderman Robin Rue Williams and other council members are fighting for $10 million reparations to fix the economic disparity amongst the historically marginalized communities there.
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover, who are also reparations activists appear. Glover saying, “Evanston, IL has done something that no other city has done, if we’re able to use that as a platform maybe other cities might adopt the whole idea of this.”
Part two covers the next generation of Black creators and their influence on our culture, but also how our pasts are so intertwined with our present and futures. This episode also dives into the idea and potential of Afro-Futurism as seen by Ytasha Womack and tech educator Justin Shaifer. Lastly this episode also touches on Black spaces on social media and how Black creators like Jalaiah Harmon, maintain and share their content.
Part three of “Soul of a Nation” touches on the subject of the Black church and the role it plays in our communities willingness to forgive heinous crimes as well as the acceptance of LGBTQ+ members of the community. In part four of the limited series, Taraji P. Henson leads the conversation surrounding Black joy, with interviews with DJ D-Nice and comedian Michael Yo. With their partners at The Undefeated, other notable voices like David Alan Greer, Tommy Davis Jr, and Deon Cole discussed the evolution of Black people’s representation in comedy from Eddie Murphy to “A Black Lady Sketch Show”. Janai Norman also interviews Cynthia Erivo on her iconic roles of Harriet Tubman an Aretha Franklin.
In the fifth episode of this series, Jemele Hill introduces the audience to the conversation of athletes being more than just that. This episode includes interviews with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, two UCLA gymnast, Renee Montgomery, and even John Carlos, who was a pioneer in this movement during the 1968 Olympics. The cast also talks about how influential sports have been for Black culture in films such as Above the Rim, Love and Basketball, and Remember the Titans.
There are several musical performances that conclude each episode which include the voices of H.E.R., Anthony Hamilton, and John Legend. This show is a great way for America to start having these conversations on the road towards progress. The final episode of the series, part six, airs on Tuesday night at 10pm EST on ABC.
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