WGN America’s ‘Underground’ makes history

“Underground,’” tells the unflinching story of some of America’s valiant heroes—enslaved people who risked their lives to reach freedom.

Cast and crew of Underground -  Getty Images for WGN America

WGN America’s  series “Underground” made history Monday when it became the inaugural public program presented at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) following its historic grand opening.

Peter Liguori, President and CEO of Tribune Media Company, who introduced the “Underground” screening said of the new museum, “This building is testimony to the fact that the African American story is a central part of the American story.”  He added, “This soaring structure is a symbol of perseverance…of over-coming…of true character tested and revealed. The people, the heroes featured in these exhibits, and the untold millions not named here, earned this museum its tribute.”

Immediately following the screening, series’ stars Alano Miller, Amirah Vann, Jessica de Gouw and Aisha Hinds, executive producer Mike Jackson, and President of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Dr. Clarence Newsome, took the stage to participate in a panel discussion, moderated by the Smithsonian’s NMAAHC Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Dr. Rex Ellis, about the powerful series and its cultural impact.

Aisha Hinds, who joins the series for its upcoming second season as the pioneering abolitionist Harriet Tubman, said of her recurring guest role, “It’s an incredible honor to tell this story. I want to do everything I can to honor her [Harriet Tubman] legacy.”

Underground” Executive Producer Mike Jackson talked about the contemporary music of the series and said “The music [of “Underground”] created the vibe of contemporary storytelling.”  Dr. Newsome summed up the panel saying “‘Underground’ is a breakthrough in television.”

Among the many awe-inspiring artifacts the panelists saw on the tour were Harriet Tubman’s bible and the lace shawl Queen Victoria presented to the renowned freedom fighter.  Miller also discovered that one of his ancestors, Richard Allen, is featured in an exhibit as the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

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