Aminata: Previously on The Book of Negroes...
This here is Mr. Solomon Lindo. He has come to grade my indigo.
man: Who's that boy that's been sniffing around here?
Georgia: He knows, child. He knows who the daddy is and who the daddy ain't.
I sold you to the Jew.
Aminata: Do you have other slaves?
My wife and I prefer the term "servant".
You sold my daughter.
Robertson Appleby sold your baby.
You helped him.
I'm sailing to New York City.
I want you to come with me.
(theme music playing)
They call it Manhattan, based on the Indian word for "Hilly Island," mana-hatta.
Aminata: My spirits had been low during the entire trip to Manhattan. However, as I looked out at the city, the weight of the past began to lessen.
Island or no island, perhaps it would be the sort of place in which I could make my escape.
I'm going to need you to write some letters and run my errands.
Perhaps we can repair the damage between us.
Push off! Come on lads, push off, now!
It's Canvas Town.
It's very dangerous. Stay away from it. The negroes there are always willing to relieve you of your goods.
But are they free?
The question is how they live.
Aminata: It gave me hope to see negroes free in New York. I would, somehow, find my place among them.
I would not submit again to ownership by any man.
I would not return to Charles Town.
Welcome! My name is Samuel Fraunces, but you can call me Black Sam, or Sam if you prefer.
Now, I know you've never been here before, because I never forget a guest.
And I know without a shadow of a doubt I have never met you before.
I'm afraid I do not know your names.
And the lady, will she be requiring... ?
Lindo: Separate rooms, yes.
Yes. Aminata Diallo.
And thank you for saying it.
You can call me Meena.
Is Mr. Lindo your, uh... ?
Owner. Not for long.
Hmm. New York means many opportunities.
Can you help with these opportunities?
Have you had any lunch?
I am from Jamaica.
My father was a sugarcane plantation owner, my mother, a sl*ve.
My father set me free at 15 with enough money to travel.
I talked my way onto a trade ship and learned the tavern business here in New York.
On the ship here, there were rumours of w*r coming to the colonies.
Trouble is coming.
The British, they uh... the whole lot of them are not loved here in New York.
You obliterated those crab cakes, my dear.
They are good.
I will take that as a compliment.
From those moons on your face, I suspect your journey started way before Charles Town.
Is it possible to escape in New York?
Canvas Town is where you must go.
But sometimes the white men send raiding parties to grab whoever they can.
Runaway slaves or free negroes, it does not matter.
What about a ship to Africa?
To even dream of it would be madness.
Ships don't sail from New York to Africa. They sail to England and unload the tobacco, rum, sugar.
And then, they sail to Africa to find more slaves.
There must be a way.
I must go back to find what has survived of my home.
No Liverpool ship captain is gonna waste his time taking you to Africa.
He's gonna sell you back into sl*very in Barbados or Virginia. And if you made it to Africa, the sl*ve traders would only pack you up and send you right back here.
New York is the best place for you, my dear.
Many places to hide, to work.
I made out just fine when I came here.
New York is the best place in all 13 colonies.
I must go.
I suspect a full tavern for dinner.
Don't lose faith, Meena.
Never lose faith.
(knocking on door) (door opening)
I was going to leave you a note regarding this letter. It's in draft form for the governor.
My notes are in the margins.
I need you to write it properly for me so I can deliver it tomorrow.
I'll see you later this evening.
(clamouring and shouting outside)
man: Down with the British! Down with the British!
Down with the British!
Get out of here!
man: Open up, Tory, or I'll bust the door down!
man: Tar and feather him!
man: Get down there!
Tories whooped at Lexington and Concord!
What do you mean?
Rebels met the Tories in Massachusetts and the rebels won. Are you a Tory?
What precisely is that?
Better not be a Tory.
It's w*r now, AND WE SHALL HAVE FREEDOM!
Freedom for the slaves?
This w*r ain't for n*gg*r*s, I'm talking about us!
We ain't never gonna be slaves again.
What is happening, Sam?
The revolution is here, Aminata. You want to escape?
Now is as good a time as any.
w*r is inevitable, and the British... they have the surprise of their lives coming.
Now, if you escape now, Lindo won't have time to hunt you down.
The British are gonna close the harbour.
Now, Lindo will want to go back to his own home, because there will be rioting there, too.
If he doesn't leave now, he won't have a chance to?
Go north. Go up Broadway into the woods.
Come see me in a few days and knock on this door.
Go! Thank you, Sam.
(clamouring and g*n f*ring)
Return to your homes or we will open f*re!
You go home, Tory! This is our home!
This is your final warning!
(Aminata crying out)
Aminata: I moved deeper and deeper into the wilderness where Solomon Lindo could never find me.
Nearly 15 years had passed since I was seized in the woods outside Bayo, but here I was, all alone, and surrounded by the trees of another continent.
I was free again.
It was late in the afternoon of April 23rd, 1775, and I had taken back my freedom.
(gasping and sighing)
(rain falling heavily)
(knocking on door)
Oh, look at you!
Come! Come, come.
Lindo raged for a couple of minutes, then took the first ship south. Left the same day the w*r broke out.
He could return at any time with bounty hunters and make you a sl*ve again, Aminata.
I have a job for you.
Consider it an advance.
I am in your debt.
What will you do now that you are free of Lindo?
Ah! Free of Lindo.
I will find my man and make my way back home to Africa.
You must find some place to stay.
I will stay among the negroes there.
You will see a boy named Claybourne.
He will help you.
Aminata: Pardon me, sir.
I am looking for a Claybourne.
Plenty for you.
Ain't this pretty?
Miss Meena, this here's Berthilda.
She be my sweetheart.
Good to meet you.
Claybourne say you was African?
I am African.
My momma was African. She be d*ad now, though.
Pox done got her last sick season.
Claybourne: Miss Meena, I could build you a tent, but I ain't lettered.
I could help you with that.
Ain't I too old to be learned?
Not at all!
You start one letter at a time.
The first letter is A, After two letters you get C, for Claybourne.
laughing: Yeah! That's the one.
Teach me about that C. That's the big one.
Now, Miss Meena...
... you, you be the runaway?
I want you to keep your eyes open in Canvas Town.
Them sl*ve owners be sending raids through here to get their property sometimes.
You hear me?
I hear you, Claybourne.
You got your eye on Claybourne?
You got a man?
You should find yourself one before the snowfall.
I've got a man.
And I hope he finds me.
Then where he be at?
South Carolina, Georgia... I hope he ain't take no g*n to the head in this w*r.
You should find yourself another buck.
There'd be plenty of them willing to take an African woman who talks fancy like you.
Aminata: In times of w*r and desolation, women don't stop having babies.
When I got settled in Canvas Town, barely a minute had passed before I was called upon by men whose women were ready to give birth, or by women who sought me out themselves.
The poorer women were, the more they needed someone to catch their babies.
Hold on now, Miss Meena.
What that say?
That's my name! (Chuckling)
See, Claybourne the only name they done gave me.
Mitchell is a name I done took.
Heard a white man called that once.
Decided I liked it so much that when I got here, I was... I was gonna be a new man.
A free man. With 2 names, both for myself!
You done give this fool man too much of your time. When are you gonna write my name?
B-E-R T-H-I L-D-A M-A-T-I-A...
S. "Berthilda Matias".
That don't even sound as sweet coming out the mouth like a good old "Claybourne Mitchell".
It's the only name I done got.
I don't even know why I love you. You got a mouth like a drawbridge.
Come on now!
Aminata: On July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies of the United States declared their independence, thus committing to carry on with a w*r that they had g*n a year earlier.
Solomon Lindo did not return to New York City, and so it felt safe for me to keep returning to Sam's tavern.
I worked there steadily, writing letters and keeping ledgers in exchange for a modest wage.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal... "
(men shouting affirmations)
"... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;"
"that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (cheering)
What kind of rights do they want they don't already have?
Hmm. I'm gonna need your help in the morning to assist me on a delivery.
What kind of delivery?
woman: Be right there!
You need to swallow.
Why didn't you tell me the supplies were for the rebels?
If I would have told you, maybe you wouldn't have come.
I don't trust either side in this fight.
The rebels even less!
Everyone must choose a side, Aminata.
Not doing so will get you k*lled.
General Washington leads these men. Met him at the tavern last winter.
He's a good man.
Are there spirits on that wagon?
Bring it here!
Come on, now!
Come round and give it to him.
Hold his head back and give him the rum.
He needs more to dull the pain.
Aminata: The summer of 1776 saw bloody fighting as the British and Americans fought with each other in New York and 4 of the 13 colonies.
There's blood on your hands!
This is madness.
rebel: Set up a f*ring line!
(Aminata gasps and screams.)
(man shouting indistinct orders)
man: Right flank! To the right flank! Hold them back!
Sam: Let's go! Let's go!
Hi-yaa! Hi-yaa! Come on!
Are you a spy, Sam?
Can the rebels win this w*r?
The British are finished in these colonies.
They just don't know it yet.
What happens to the negroes if the rebels chase the British out of the colonies?
The rebels are better people.
I don't trust the British.
Claybourne: Miss Meena!
What is it, Claybourne?
There's a man... he's snooping around Canvas Town, and I think he's looking for you.
Could be a spy working for them bounty hunters, but he says he wants to see you. Where is he?
This way. Right this way.
You know this man?
Yes, I know this man.
I didn't find any more word... about our baby.
Lindo said she d*ed.
The pox got her.
No, he's... mistaken.
Mr. Fraunces, Aminata told me how generous you were when she first came to New York.
Everyone calls me Sam.
Thank you, Sam, for looking out for my wife.
I did not do anything.
Aminata is the most capable woman I've ever seen.
That she is.
Sam was a friend when I needed one.
Mm-hmm. Please, let's sit.
I have prepared some lunch for all of us to share.
Ah... I hear the crab cakes are quite good.
False modesty does not suit you, Sam.
I hear you've come up from South Carolina.
How is the fighting down there?
The Cherokee and the Loyalists are doing battle with the Patriots.
Did you join in the fight?
The fight is hard to avoid.
The Patriots, they want their liberty.
Some of us want ours as well.
King George has no love for the n*gro.
The British are the lesser of the two evils.
Do you think the redcoats are going to win the w*r, Chekura?
They take the South, they can take this w*r.
I think General Washington and the Americans might have something to say about that.
General Washington has not won a battle yet.
Every time his militia faces the redcoats, they turn, run. Seen it myself.
I have helped bury many a d*ad Patriot sh*t in the back.
Are you a British Loyalist, Chekura?
Are you an American Patriot, Mr. Fraunces?
I have something that I think might interest you.
"Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, promises freedom to... negroes who cross over to the British side."
Is this real, Sam?
The British keep dying and they need men to fight.
It makes the rebels crazy.
They say it isn't fair: stealing negroes from good men.
Aminata: " And I do declare,
"all negroes free that are able and willing to bear arms and join His Majesty's troops."
What that all mean?
It means that negroes fighting for the British get their freedoms!
It means men that fight for the British gonna die with 5 b*ll*ts in their brain, old man.
Don't you want to be free? Don't you?
Come on, get off your bony butts and fight!
I'm free already.
I done run away. That there, that just means I'm free to die.
Say what you will, but the Americans will defeat King George and the English.
The rebels just want to control their own affairs.
There's no denying the fact; the Americans are slaves in their own land.
They be free enough for some fat, rice-growing white man to bust in here, place a ring around our necks and drag us back down south.
Nah, uh-uh. Ain't nobody taking me down south.
There's no need to fear the Americans.
The rebels are just demanding their own freedom. and are more honest than the British.
General Washington is a fair man.
Now, liberty is coming.
And soon enough, freedom for all negroes will follow.
The same General Washington who owns slaves?
Chekura done got that right.
I tell you one thing: this here baby in my sweetheart's belly?
He gonna be born free.
I hope so.
I need to speak to one Miss Meena Diallo, the midwife.
Hold on now, who's asking?
Lieutenant Waters for His Majesty's army.
What does His Majesty's army want with my wife?
We need her services.
Aminata: British soldiers and officers filled Manhattan and took their pleasures with the women in Holy Ground.
Every one of them knew that I could catch babies.
They called me "One-Pound Meena" for my fee.
I never kept the money, but just used it to help the people of Canvas Town.
How old are you?
And how old are you?
15, I reckon.
I require one pound in silver to catch the baby.
That's a small fortune.
It's my fee.
No n*gro in Canvas Town could cough up one pound.
What's her name?
Alright, Lieutenant Waters, I would like a word alone with Rosetta, please.
How far apart... are your pains?
Dunno. Couple minutes?
Does he b*at you?
No. He never b*at me one single time.
He buys me food and clothes.
And now he says I gots to go.
I can come back when I'm skinny again, but I can't bring back any kind of baby.
What do you want?
Drown the baby in the river and come back to Lieutenant Waters.
I think you may feel differently once you feel that baby suckling you.
I didn't have to sleep with any of the other officers.
He kept me for himself, and he came to visit me every week.
I don't need any baby.
I loves him, and he loves me.
When it is time, I'm going to tell you to push.
Are you ready for that?
OK, pull it over.
You got it?
Lieutenant Waters! This is a surprise.
Oh, I just paid Rosetta and the child a visit.
I wanted to thank you for helping her.
Rosetta is a fine girl. She and the baby will thrive with a few shillings from you, of course.
Yes, she will.
I also came to have a word with your husband.
If he has a moment.
I've been instructed to inform you of the King's offer.
Chekura: The lieutenant has something of interest you might want to hear.
I come offering...
(sound of Chekura entering)
What did Lieutenant Waters want with you?
He's leaving for Albany the day after tomorrow.
He's commanding a new regiment and he's looking for negroes willing to join him.
You told him no?
He told the men that the British are close to breaking the backs of the American Patriots.
He wants the negroes of Canvas Town to fight?
They plan to cut off New England from the rest of the colonies. His regiment is meeting with a General John Burgoyne's army in Albany.
You told him no?
You did not consult me.
I cannot wait out this w*r.
The British promise liberty.
I will fight for my freedom like any man!
It is not your fight to have.
You... tell him.
Tell him. Tell Lieutenant Waters you have changed your mind.
I cannot do that.
YOU TELL HIM!
I cannot do that, Aminata.
You tell him you will not fight and die for them!
The Americans promise nothing, Aminata.
If they win this w*r we can be slaves in these 13 colonies for another 50 years. 50 years!
Now is the time.
It is a fight to the finish.
I lost our daughter.
I lost our daughter!
I won't lose you too!
You're not going to lose me.
I won't lose you too!
You won't lose me, Aminata.
You will not lose me. Huh? Aminata...
I will be a ripe old age when my spirit crosses back over the oceans.
You stay alive.
Aminata: Not since my time on the sl*ve ship had I seen people dying so quickly and in such numbers.
I could not tell how bad the casualties were among the rebels, but here in New York, they could barely bury the British redcoats fast enough.
Any word from Chekura?
I received a letter yesterday.
Lieutenant Waters made him a courier between Albany and Saratoga about a month ago.
General John Burgoyne, who Lieutenant Waters is to meet in Albany, just won a small battle in a place called Freeman's Farm outside of Saratoga.
If the British cut off New England, will the fighting end soon?
This fight could determine the course of the w*r, my dear.
Now, here, we have your name, Adam.
I wrote it here: A-D-A-M.
You say the letters. "Ah"...
It's Freddy... he's back!
Chekura and Claybourne ain't with him.
Freddy: A few of us Canvas Town negroes met up with General Burgoyne.
After, he was att*cked by Benedict Arnold's rebels.
Is Chekura alive? Is he alive?!
Many men d*ed.
We retreated. It was every man for himself.
Is Chekura alive?
I saw him get sh*t by musket f*re helping out another n*gro.
I saw him fall.
Claybourne and I picked him up and put him in the bush.
Couldn't move him he was bleeding too much from musket f*re. A white farmer loyal to King Georgie, he hid us.
What's his name?
It is w*r at Saratoga.
The rebels control territories now. The militia is everywhere.
It's nearly impossible to get through the lines.
They know you, Sam. You are a friend of the rebels, so help me get through!
I have to get to Chekura.
Aminata, Chekura may be d*ad.
He was sh*t by a musket two days ago! Ah!
I need to get to my husband.
I cannot leave him alone.
I need your help, Sam.
I need your help.
I need your help!
(Sam clicking tongue)
I am Samuel Fraunces. This is my wife, Meena.
I have a letter of passage from Brigadier General Horatio Gates.
How do you know the head of the Northern Continental Army?
He has eaten at my tavern many times with General Washington.
We are travelling with supplies for General Arnold's army.
You're going to Saratoga?
Sam: That is correct.
patriot: You got no escort?
I was told the Patriots controlled these roads.
No Tory would be crazy enough to travel it.
Yeah, we gave those Tory bastards hell in Saratoga.
Damn fools wore red coats in a bush fight!
You could spot 'em a mile off. It was a turkey sh**t.
The General's letter says that after we deliver our supplies, we are to ferry our d*ad Patriots home.
You give our d*ad a decent burial.
I will do it.
Sam: Whoa, whoa, whoa!
I need your assistance. Sir?
Flemming's farm. Can you tell us where it is?
Sam: Whoa! Whoa!
That you, Miss Meena?
Heard somebody riding up so I hid.
Thought you were militia.
There be militia everywhere looking for n*gro traitors who fight for the redcoats.
Where is Chekura? Where is he? Where is he?
He hurt real bad, Miss Meena.
I didn't want to move him, but I didn't want to leave him, neither.
I tried to patch that bleeding best I could. He real strong.
I came to take you home.
(Chekura slowly breathing)
Come, come. Wake up, wake up.
I have some soup for you.
Do you want some tea?
The tide of the w*r had turned against the British after the Americans won the battle of Saratoga.
France joined the fight on the side of the Americans.
General Washington's army had captured all of the colonies.
New York was the only place left - in British control.
It was only a matter of time.
The British just surrendered at Yorktown.
sl*ve owners from the South will be coming up North to reclaim their property.
Solomon Lindo will be coming back for you.
Our navy plans to move all n*gro loyalists to Nova Scotia where they will be free.
I helped register thousands of Blacks leaving.
If we didn't get out, we might never get out.
I was working on this very document!
Announcer: The Book of Negroes, presented by TD, next Wednesday at 9:00 on CBC.
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01x03 - Episode 3
Episode transcripts of the TV mini-series, "The Book of Negroes" . Aired February 2015.
Kidnapped in Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata must navigate a revolution in New York, isolation in Nova Scotia and treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, in an attempt to secure her freedom in the 19th century.
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1 post • Page 1 of 1