Frederick Douglass: Zombie Killer or Why Let Lincoln Have all the Fun?

9 thoughts on “Frederick Douglass: Zombie Killer or Why Let Lincoln Have all the Fun?”

  1. I’m currently reading ALVH and plan to see the movie. When I first came across this concept of Abe Lincoln killing vamps, I was fascinated and intrigued. I love the idea of incorporating fictional characters into speculative fiction. But you’re absolutely right. The reality of Lincoln’s stated views on slavery and race and how he approached the issue of abolishing the former is far removed from the idealized mythology that has dubbed him the Great Emancipator. Yes, his executive action freed the slaves, but the impetus leading to that moment rested with forces and events beyond his control.

    Now, instead of using a bunch of long dead guys and gals to fight evil, how about we revolve a story around me! Let’ call it Ronald T. Jones: Hostile Alien Vanquisher!

  2. Great essay. I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie or read the book, but this whole revisioning/alternate history reality sic-fi/fantasy fad has always peaked my interest. After Roots I’ve been uninterested in the Civil War Era. It all just seems like we get marginalized or totally forgotten by the story-tellers and enthusiast of this part of American history. But I’ll admit the idea that some of our “Island Fam” took part in Our War for Independence raised a brow. “…they were free blacks, who came from the North, Canada and as far as the West Indies, risking their lives to fight a war against slavery.”

    1. yeah. funny u say that. ta-nehsi coates recently wrote an article (like earlier in the year or the past Fall) asking why more African-Americans aren’t as interested in the Civil War–playing the part of re-enactors or visiting battleground sites, etc. part of the reason is what the historian David Blight alludes to above–that is the systematic writing out of blacks from the Civil War for decades, in order to turn the conflict into a “white man’s war” that fostered racial reconciliation between white Northerners and Southerners. this is where things get muddled, and we begin to see even slavery often stripped out of the Civil War as a central defining issue. it’s why i mention the movie Glory–even here, we have a way of including blacks in the defining American conflict that at the same time does so as a half-measure by not presenting it truthfully. we get a film mostly focused on a white general and the black slaves he teaches to be fighters/men. think about how different that movie might have been, had the black characters instead (following the actual history) been free blacks from the north and across the diaspora (some men from Canada and the West Indies came with military training), who risked their lives, the possibility of being enslaved, to fight in a war to end slavery. ALVH may add in the fantastic with vampires, but the trope of the white-savior-figure and the diminishing of black agency is all too present.

  3. I opinion of Glory has been downgraded because it did not reflect who the members of the actual 54th were. It most certainly would have been a different dynamic if the free blacks were portrayed in the movie.

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