Freedom Rider: A Real Life Django

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Want to hear a real life story of Black love in the time of slavery? Read a book. The fictional Django has nothing on the flesh and blood brother Madison Washington, whose love for his wife, his people, and freedom could fill a TV miniseries or several spaghetti westerns.


Freedom Rider: A Real Life Django

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Audiences cheering the exploits of the Django fictional character do so in part because they mistakenly believe that this work of fiction has no historical basis in it at all.”

Americans suffer because of a longstanding, deliberate and conscious effort to either obfuscate or to tell outright lies about their nation’s history. Millions of people will say that their country is the greatest in the world not merely because of patriotism, but because the true stories of our history have been disappeared by design. Perhaps the historical topic which is the least known in any substantive way, but which still impacts our lives in 2013, is slavery. Slavery determined how the Constitution is written, why our capital is located where it is, why wars were fought, and as a television show is titled, how the states got their shapes.

It is little wonder that a new film, Django Unchained, has generated so much controversy. The combination of a very painful subject and the lack of information which has been disseminated about it have made a movie a hot topic of conversation. Sadly that discussion has not been very useful.

The Django character is fictional, but history tells us about men who did in fact risk freedom to free their families still in bondage. One man, Madison Washington, failed in his goal to reach his still enslaved wife but succeeded in freeing himself and 130 other men, women and children in 1841.

Among the little known facts which have been lost as a result of the lies of omission and commission is that many thousands of enslaved people were transported within the United States via slave ship. Some were “sold down the (Mississippi) river,” others were transported on ships which plied the eastern and gulf coasts, taking their human cargo to slave markets in New Orleans and Galveston and Mobile and Savannah and Charleston and other cities.

History tells us about men who did in fact risk freedom to free their families still in bondage.”

Madison Washington successfully fled from Virginia to Canada in 1839 or 1840 and remained there for approximately one year. While he succeeded in safely freeing himself, he longed to be reunited with his wife. Against the advice of abolitionists who assisted him, he returned to Virginia but was captured and re-enslaved. Along with 130 other men, women and children, he was on board the Creole and bound for the New Orleans slave market.

On November 7, 1841 Madison led an insurrection aboard the Creole and with help from his comrades sailed to Nassau in the Bahamas. The Bahamas were under British rule and as such had abolished slavery. The American government demanded that the Creole be returned and that the enslaved persons on board be returned to bondage. The American consul even attempted to retake the vessel, but failed to do so as a result of vigilance among the Bahamians. The British remained steadfast in upholding their laws, and while Washington failed to rescue his wife he succeeded in securing his freedom and that of 130 other people.

Madison Washington was not alone in using the ocean to free himself. Robert Smalls was hired out by his slaveholder as a dockworker and eventually learned to pilot a boat. On the evening of May 12, 1862 Smalls and a group of other enslaved men stole the CSS Planter from the Charleston, South Carolina harbor when the crew went ashore. They had plotted their escape for months and were able to stop and free their families before bringing the ship to the safety of the Union fleet. Smalls went on to serve in the Union war effort and after the war was elected to serve as a senator representing the state that was first to rebel against the Union.

In general, slavery is swept under the rug, and the descendants of those held in bondage are left with little information or, worse yet, shame about their ancestors.”

Audiences cheering the exploits of the Django fictional character do so in part because they mistakenly believe that this work of fiction has no historical basis in it at all. Do they know that in reality hundreds of black men and women fought for their freedom? There were slave revolts and attempted revolts carried out by Nat Turner and Gabriel in Virginia and Charles Deslonde in Louisiana. Henry “Box” Brown mailed himself from Virginia to New York and made himself a freeman. Harriet Tubman was not content to free herself, but risked capture on numerous occasions to bring hundreds of others to freedom. She was en route to join John Brown at Harpers Ferry and assist in his plan for armed insurrection at the time that his actions were thwarted. Some failed while others succeeded, but there were never ending efforts to escape and resist what was one of America’s greatest evils.

During black history month the exploits of Harriet Tubman and other well known persons are remembered and celebrated, but in general, slavery is swept under the rug, and the descendants of those held in bondage are left with little information or, worse yet, shame about their ancestors. They don’t know that Wall Street functioned as a slave market, that all of the monuments in the nation’s capital, from the White House to the Washington Monument, were built by slave labor. The Second Amendment was a tool to insure that every white person could help enforce slavery, and the nation’s capital moved further and further south, from New York to Philadelphia to a city created on a swamp, to insure that slave holding power had physical control of the government.

That is the story which modern Americans ought to know. Controversies about movies make for good copy, but the ignorance about how slavery shaped this country’s history and the lengths that men and women endured to end it are sadly still hidden.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)


Things Blacks Should Know & Consider RE QT's 'Django'

From The Daily Beast article: ‘Django’ Selling Slaves as Action Figures' [@ ]

See how {San}Quentin on the QT Disses ‘Roots’ while Pimping ‘Django’ Slave Dolls…

}Quentin Tarantino is laughing all the way to the bank. Tarantino and his longtime studio chief-partner Harvey Weinstein took a gamble on transforming the atrocities of slavery into comedic, action-packed entertainment….
Tarantino’s and Weinstein’s audacious release of ‘Django’ action dolls could be perceived as adding insult to injury, especially considering Tarantino’s lack of regard for the legacy of Alex Haley’s epic 1977 mini-series Roots, which is American pop culture’s most prized depiction of slavery.
When you look at 'Roots', nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” Tarantino told The Daily Beast’s Allison Samuels.I couldn’t get over how oversimplified they made everything about that time. It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t” [HUHH WTF! see below]
Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr., who starred in Roots, dismissed Tarantino’s critique, he was just “stirring stuff up” and making a “mockery” out of racism.
Gossett revealed that after seeing ‘Django Unchained’ at a Malibu movie theater last weekend, he walked out within the first 20 minutes. “Django is a very small speck on the horizon to what we should be giving energy to,” Gossett said… {

FYI- “Roots’ came on ABC broadcast TV in 1977 during prime-time, & was shown to both Black & white audiences [totaling up to 100Million+ viewers - rivaling that of Super-Bowl Sunday] including CHILDREN & ELDERS! Thus ‘Roots’ had to realistically depict slavery & still pass TV ratings muster, something that {San}Quenton on the QT could NEVER Do because he lacks the ‘creativity’ to make a successful movie without misusing & abusing excessive Violence & the 'N'-word!!!

IMO QT’s dissing of ‘Roots’ & Lou Gossett’s counter-response should be spread thru-out Black communities & near theaters showing ‘Django’ where Blacks frequent. The arrogance of this Guy! He Disses ‘Roots’ as NOT authentic while Pimping ‘Django’ Slave dolls- It’s enough to tell {San}Quentin to his Face- NIGGA PLEEZE!!!

Other Considerations: QT dissed 'Roots' by saying 'it  didn't ring true... -&- claimed to be something it wasn't'... YET {San} Quentin on the QT claimed that his "Django' would be an important film on slavery, but when called to task that 'Django Unchained' apparently turns slavery into a QT style JOKE- QT then claimed it's really a combo of the original 1966 spaghetti-western 'Django', 'Blazing Saddles' & 'Shaft in Ole Dixie-Land / Candie-land'- NOT really about slavery per-se'- HUMM!!! -AND- Apparently Jamie Foxx ain't 'Django's" real star- because it's the white German Dude who- Frees Django & gives him license to kill  [only] 'wanted' white men, & who actually confronts the movie's main villain [DiCapro's Candie] both intellectually & ultimately exacts justice by killing him- NOT Foxx's Django- even though thee reason for going to Candie-Land is to rescue Django's wife! Foxx's Django instead just gets to kill off the 2nd-Fiddle Uncle-Tom House-Negro [Sam-Jack in black-face]! I've seen enough westerns to know that their real stars ALWAYS confronts & takes down their main villains. Thus IMO QT pulled a 'Bait & Switch' move on 'Django's" Black audience! [PS: Holly-weird just made it official who 'Django's' Real Star is by nominating the white German dude {Christopher Shultz} for Best Supporting Actor- NOT Jamie Foxx]!


There are many untold stories about Blacks' fight / revolts against slavery, that I suspect won't be told [at-least nt correctly] by Hollyweird. No movie has been made about Harriett Tubman since Cicely Tyson's 'Woman Called Moses' [a TV movie] in the late 1970s. No movie, that I know of, has ever been made at-all on Fredrick Douglass [who Spielberg's 'Lincoln' literally wrote out of its script], Nat Turner, Martin Delaney, Robert Smalls, etc. And then there's the Haitian Slave Revolt lead by Toussaint L'Ouverture & Jean-Jacques Dessalines, &/or the African / Native American  Alliance of FL's Seminole Nation, that fought against Ole Slave-Ownin / Injun-Killin Andrew Jackson [the Democrats' first POTUS]. And I suspect most folks, like myself, haven't even heard of Madison Washington's slave revolt story [just as I hadn't heard of the Amistad incident till Spielberg's movie]. IMO Holly-weird will never touch most of these stories, because they wouldn't appeal to mosts whites & IMO too many Blacks may show an unfortunately lack of interest [ala 'Rosewood']. PLUS- Even on the rare occasions when Holly-weird does make movies about slavery either they turn some white guy(s) into the star(s) &/or real hero(es) [ala "Lincoln', 'Amistad' & 'Glory' ] &/or comes up w some jive angle for the story- ala 'Django'!!!   

Thank You Margaret Kimberley and bar

Now that's two books I have to get.

I remember I was posting comments here about Joseph Smith's "White Horse Prophecy." Then BAR posted a review of Gerald Horne's new book that explains the who/what/when and why's of the "Black horse" in that prophecy...

Joseph Smith's White Horse Prophecy:


"While the terrible revolution of which I have spoken has been going on. England will be neutral until it becomes so inhuman that she will interfere to stop the shedding of blood. England and France will unite together to make peace. not to subdue the nations; they will find the nations so broken up and so many claiming government, till there will be no responsible government. Then it will appear to the other nations or powers as though England had taken possession of the country. The Black Horse will flee to the invaders and will join with them. for they will have fear of becoming slaves again. knowing England did not believe in slavery, fleeing to them they believe would make them safe; armed with British bayonets. the doings of the "Black" Horse will he terrible."

Joseph Smith had to be tied in with British intelligence (the red horse), like Tarpley contends in his book on the Mormons.

Ms Tubman and John Brown

On another blog, I quoted your mention that Harriet Tubman was on the way to join and help John Brown.  Another commenter said I was wrong, that, Tubman had turned down a request from Brown that she join him.

This irritated me, so, I ordered the W.E.B. DuBois book on John Brown.  I quote.  "Only sickness, brought on by her toil and exposure, prevented Harriet Tubman from being present at Harper's Ferry."

I was also called a racist because I have begun spreading the BAR term "Black Misleadership Class" as far and as wide as possible.   

Thank you for your writings.