‘Black America’ Amazon Show: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


Two weeks after HBO announced its Civil War alternate history show Confederate, Amazon Studios announced its own. Black America will show an alternate history where African Americans were given their own country as reparations for slavery at the end of the war. The men behind the series are prolific producer-director Will Packer and The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder.

Although the show has no cast, the announcement on Deadline caught enough attention that “Black America” started trending on Twitter. It also could be a long time before we see the show, since McGruder hasn’t even finished writing it yet.

Here’s what we know about Black America and its plot.

1. ‘Black America’ Is Set in an Alternate World Where Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama Are a Country Run by the Ancestors of Former Slaves

Black America creator, Aaron McGruder, Aaron McGruder Boondocks

Aaron McGruder in 2005.

Like Confederate, Black America is set in an alternate history changed by events at the end of the Civil War. Deadline notes that this series will be set in a world where Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were combined into a single country taken over by slaves as reparations. The country is called “New Colonia” and it had a violent, confrontational relationship with the U.S., which residents refer to as “Big Neighbor.”

Over 150 years after the Civil War, New Colonia is finally at peace with the U.S. and is experiencing a booming economy after decades of political turmoil. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is struggling and the future of the two countries is in danger.

Packer told Deadline that he first heard of the idea through Amazon Studios head of content Roy Price, who approached him with the idea. He thought it was crazy, but “I was immediately enthralled by the idea; I couldn’t stop thinking about it and what a provocative and bold piece of content it could be.”

Each episode of the show will run an hour. Packer described the project as “a drama, but it wouldn’t be Aaron McGruder without traces of his trademark sardonic wit.”

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2. Packer Was Inspired to Discuss the Plot of ‘Black America’ After Hearing About ‘Confederate’

Will Packer Black America, Black America Amazon, Black America plot

GettyWill Packer.

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On July 19, HBO announced that Game of Thrones writers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff were working on a new series called Confederate. In this series, the South won the Civil War and still exists in 2017 with contemporary slavery. The project is being developed with Nichelle Tamble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman. The announcement spurred controversy, with #NoConfederate trending during the most recent Game of Thrones episode.

Deadline first reported in February that McGruder and Packer were working on a project for Amazon, but didn’t reveal the plot. Packer told the site this week that the Confederate announcement inspired them to come forward with Black America‘s plot.

“It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted and we are pretty far down the road with it,” Packer said.

Packer declined to comment specifically on Confederate, but it was clear that the idea of the show doesn’t appeal to him.

“The fact that there is the contemplation of contemporary slavery makes it something that I would not be a part of producing nor consuming,” he told Deadline. “Slavery is far too real and far too painful, and we still see the manifestations of it today as a country for me to ever view that as a form of entertainment.”

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3. Packer Is the Producer/Director Behind ‘Think Like a Man,’ ‘Straight Outta Compton’ & ‘Ride Along’

Will Packer Black America, Black America Amazon, Black America plot

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GettyWill Packer.

Packer is a prolific writer, producer and director in Hollywood, with an Emmy nomination for producing the 2016 remake of Roots. In 2012, he also received the Black Film Critics Circle Awards Pioneer Award.

Packer is also behind several box office hits, including the new movie Girls Trip, which was directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Since its release on July 21, Girls Trip has grossed $65.08 million on a $19 million budget. Packer also produced The Wedding Ringer, Ride Along, Straight Outta Compton and Think Like a Man.

In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Packer said his films don’t succeed just because they only appeal to a particular audience.

“It really is time people realize that good content is good content, and an audience is an audience,” he explained to THR. “Hidden Figures didn’t get to its number only on an African-American female audience. Get Out didn’t get to its number only on an African-American horror audience. Both of those films were good films, and you had audiences who were not at all held back by the fact that African-Americans were the lead roles. It is starting to change so that we’re not pigeonholed by our casting.”

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4. Aaron McGruder Is the Creator of ‘The Boondocks’ & ‘Black Jesus’

McGruder is best known for creating the often-controversial comic strip The Boondocks, which was adapted into an Adult Swim animated series. He also worked with Adult Swim on Black Jesus, which ran from 2014 to 2015. Plus, he worked with John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) on the script for 2012’s Red Tails.

In 2006, The Boondocks TV series won a Peabody award for the episode “The Return of the King,” which showed how Martin Luther King Jr. would react to the 21st Century.

“This episode sparked extended dialogue and debate about issues that still resonate today. For using bold satire to remind us how we have strayed from the aims of the movement led by Dr. King, ‘The Return of the King,’ an episode of The Boondocks, receives a Peabody,” the Peabody Advisory Board noted.

McGruder didn’t work on the fourth and final season of The Boondocks.

“What has never been lost on me is the enormous responsibility that came with The Boondocks – particularly the television show and it’s relatively young audience,” McGruder wrote on his Facebook page in 2014. “It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture, and love. Anything less would have been simply unacceptable.”

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5. There’s No Release Date for ‘Black America’ Yet

Don’t expect Black America to be available any time soon. Packer told Deadline that the project is in “very, very active development,” but there’s no release date set. He added that McGruder is “off and writing.”

Black America will be made by Amazon Studios and it was Packer who decided to take Price’s idea to McGruder.

“Being a fan of Aaron, I thought he definitely had the right tone, the right voice, the right wit to handle a project like this,” Packer told Deadline. “Aaron and I sat together and talked about what a huge opportunity and responsibility it would be to do this project and do it right.”

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