The Glover Report: Should Nigerian-British Actor Cynthia Erivo Play the Role of Harriet Tubman?

Photo: Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman alongside Janelle Monáe, in ‘Harriet.’  (Focus Features)

By Doni Glover, Publisher
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(BALTIMORE – October 26, 2019) – I’d love to see ‘Harriet’ (see trailer), for one, because in my best estimation, the story of Harriet Tubman’s contributions to the world cannot be told enough. Personally, I see such movies as ‘Harriet” being a part of a continuum, not the end-all be-all that is supposed to be the greatest movie ever.

The fact that a Nigerian British actor, Cynthia Erivo, is playing the role of Harriet Tubman doesn’t both me anymore more than Forest Whitacker playing Idi Amin. For me, what’s important is that the story is once again being told and on an increasingly broader platform than before. Even more, the only question I have is whether or not the actor in question – African American, Nigerian British, Jamaican, Dominican or what have you – can effectively play the role.

Hey, if a person doesn’t like ‘Harriet’, then maybe this will inspire them to produce their own Harriet Tubman movie.

Furthermore, I see people of African descent worldwide as part of a Diaspora. Having been to Africa and the Caribbean, I have seen brothers and sisters dealing with excruciating circumstances many of us couldn’t imagine. I have seen poverty worse than the Mississippi Delta. Yet, I have also seen hope in these very same eyes of people lacking the bare necessities of life. Hence, I have brothers and sisters all over the world and our struggle is much the same. So, as long as a person is of the mindset that we have more commonalities than differences, then we can work and build together. Truth be told, we share a common struggle against a common enemy.

We, as a people of African descent, cannot afford to be divided by anything! We have far too much work to do than to waste a milli-second on some ‘divide and conquer’ foolishness that at the end of the day really amounts to nothing. We have collectively been dogged by a system that clearly has no respect or regard for us as human beings. So, if anything is going to be done to improve our lot across the globe, then it starts with us. We … are the only cavalry coming!

I am often amazed as so-called leaders who seemingly have no idea of what Marcus Garvey tried to teach us about “one God, one aim, one destiny”. It’s as if we have forgotten that as profound, unifying, and universal as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was to the world, decades later, a man named Nelson Mandela would too come to share a similar message of unconditional love.

All of our great leaders – including W. E. B. Du Bois and his dear friend, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana – understood that as African Americans were enduring the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s, our brothers and sisters on the Continent were fighting to gain their independence from European powers. And please let’s not dismiss our peoples in Europe and in the Caribbean, for they also have a story to tell.

Truth is, the African has been dealing with external attacks and frustrations for a long time. Yet, I see a re-awakening in our midst. I truly believe that we live in an era where new technology is bridging the divide like never before. People of African descent worldwide are having more conversations. We are better discussing topics that may have been taboo. And, we are listening … more.

We are better understanding the similarities, the commonalities, and the strength that comes from cooperation. Personally, I have found that the better I listen, the better I understand. I think we are all growing, and I sense that Social Media is a formidable driving force in the broader dialogue throughout the Diaspora. I think it is beautiful that we are using it in a productive way – at least in the case of ‘Harriet’.

So, long story short – I’m looking forward to ‘Harriet’!

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