Amistad

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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AmistadAmistad is the story of 53 Africans chained, starved and naked, packed like sardines to the bottom of a boat whose translated name means friendship. There was nothing friendly at all in their kidnapping, capture and delivery into slavery. The African captors endured what has been called the greatest crime in the history of mankind. Automatically I knew the leader was Cinque, from the moment he broke free ( in a mind of terror and courage)and led the captured slaves into a massacre of their captors. Leaving two prisoners alive to sail the ship, they followed the stars at night in a desperate attempt to get back to their home land. While everyone was asleep, one of the prisoners turned the ship around, and they were captured off the east coast and found themselves in a strange land with strange people and were at the mercy of an American justice system that knew nothing about their language or where they were from.

It really must have been terrifying for the Africans, not being able to understand anybody, or to know their fate.

The question of slavery was fought in the first trial, and the slaves were found to be free men. The second trial was held to hold them accountable for the Amistad massacre and Quincy Adams came out of retirement to represent the Africans in the Supreme Court and they finally won their freedom and were able to go home.

I think this was one of the best movies I ever saw and should be watched by all people, because it is a part of history that everyone should know about. Amistad is part of the African American resistance to slavery. It had so much to do with the struggle of freedom.

Debbie Allen deserves all the credit for this film. It took her 13 years to bring this story to life as a film. She faced frustrations in finding somebody that was interested in this project, until she met producer Steven Spielberg.