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Common Developing TV Series From Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Barracoon’

FEBRUARY 21, 2015: Common at the 30th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards on the beach in Santa Monic, California..

Common will produce a limited series TV adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s New York Times best-selling novel Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo.”

According to Deadline, the rapper/actor’s production company, Freedom Road Productions, and Lionsgate secured the rights to the Barracoon. Hurston, a prolific writer of the Harlem Renaissance, is most known for penning the American classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Hurston’s book focuses on 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the infamous Middle Passage, in which millions of African slaves were transported to the New World on boats as a part of the Atlantic slave trade.

Lewis was illegally smuggled to America in 1927, and Barraccoon chronicles the former slave’s voyage and difficulties of life and loss once the slave trade was abolished.

The book centers on conversations between Lewis and Hurston. It had been previously unpublished because the author refused to change the language to standard English approximately 60 years ago. As a result, it remained at Howard University’s library and was accessible only to scholars before being published by HarperCollins Publishers in May 2018.

Barracoon is the second project from the television deal between Lionsgate and Freedom Road Production. The companies are developing an adaptation of B. P. Reiter’s 1977 book, Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club, produced by and starring Common.

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