Hopkins Alumn’s Novel Becomes a BET Miniseries

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The Book of Negroes
A still from The Book of Negroes featuring Aunjanue Ellis (left) and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Author Lawrence Hill is from Ontario, Canada. But when The Book of Negroes, a television miniseries based on his 2007 novel of the same, airs on BET this month, Baltimoreans will have some bragging rights. Hill, who also co-wrote the miniseries, earned his M.A. in writing from Johns Hopkins University.

The Book of Negroes tells the story of Aminata Diallo, an African woman forced into slavery at a young age, her hardships in the United States and Canada, and her attempts to return to Africa.

Diallo is fictional, but the so-called “Book of Negroes,” which recorded the names of loyalist slaves who were to be freed and relocated to Nova Scotia, is very real.

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. said that when he was sent the scripts for the episodes, he “couldn’t stop and read all six.” Gooding plays Samuel Fraunces, a New York tavern owner and an acquaintance of George Washington. Fraunces is a real historical figure whose racial background and birthplace are in dispute. In The Book of Negroes he is portrayed as a freed slave from Jamaica.

The first episode of The Book of Negroes airs on BET on February 16.



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