As media consumers, we often fill our time with senseless sitcoms and gushy romances. The shows that fall under these categories often lack substance, making it a rarity to learn anything from the television shows we choose to watch. When it comes to ABC’s docuseries “Soul of a Nation,” however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover this is not the case.
This six-part documentary brings the experiences of Black people in the United States to the forefront. Each episode navigates a certain theme, touching on topics like policing, reparations and social movements.
Hosted by Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), the premiere explores the theme of “reckonings”: the moments when growing issues are finally publically dealt with. The episode highlights some of the larger events that have occurred within our country over the recent years, including the first city to offer reparations to Black residents, the storming of the U.S. Capitol building by “Confederate patriots” and the growing call for diverse voices in the movie industry.
The series incorporates stories of Black actors, artists, activists and civilians. In doing so, these individuals are given the opportunity to voice what it is like to be a Black person in American society. Interviewees include Harry Dunn, a Black police officer who found himself scared for his life as Trump supporters charged the Capitol, and Robin Rue Simmons, the 5th Ward Alderman of Evanston, Ill., who fought for her city to be the first in the U.S. to offer reparations to its Black residents.
These people, along with various others from the Black community, take turns sharing what are inconceivable experiences to most non-Black Americans. In effect, the reality of our world is intricately revealed to a relatively ignorant and or actively unaware audience.
Each episode includes a segment called “in the kitchen,” an open discussion on current events. In the pilot, Sunny Hostin (“Miss Americana”) poses the question, “What are the challenges of being a Black patriot?”
In response, Brown speaks about his father’s role in the army. He states, “We (Black Americans) fought for the freedoms that this country says are available to us all, to come back to this country to be denied those freedoms.” It is with these intimate and unique perspectives that “Soul of a Nation” is able to unmask racial issues that remain deeply rooted in America.
With this documentary, Black Americans have been given another channel through which they can speak their truths and share their stories. For this, “Soul of a Nation” is an indispensable and groundbreaking series: one told by Black Americans with the intention to be heard by all Americans.
Daily Arts Contributor Molly Hirsch can be reached at email@example.com.