On the heels of the backlash HBO has been receiving for their planned series “Confederate,” news has now broken that Amazon has been planning a similar alternate-history series that explores that same time period.
Deadline reported Tuesday that the project, titled “Black America," is a drama led by producer Will Packer of “Straight Outta Compton” fame, as well as “The Boondocks” creator and “Black Jesus” co-creator Aaron McGruder. The project has reportedly been in the works for more than a year.
The story envisions an alternate history where newly freed slaves have successfully secured the southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to shape their own destinies as African-Americans. They form a nation called New Colonia, which has had a tumultuous relationship with the United States or “Big Neighbor.” As New Colonia thrives, America “slides into rapid decline.” Consequently, “the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.”
It was HBO’s announcement of “Confederate” this month that prompted the “Black America” team to reveal the show’s premise.
“It felt like 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 told Deadline.
Packer added “Black America” is in “very, very active development” with McGruder “off and writing.”
He also said the idea of a utopia for African-Americans isn’t a new concept.
“It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American,” he explained. “You would be hard press to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given.
"As a content creator, the fact that that is something that has been discussed thoroughly throughout various demographics of people in this country, but yet never been explored to my knowledge in any real way in long-form content, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to delve into the story, to do it right.”
Packer also revealed historians have been brought in as consultants on the project, working with producers.
This isn’t the first time Amazon has tried out an alternate history series. “The Man in the High Castle,” an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel, imagines a world where the United States lost World War II and is occupied by Nazi Germany on the east coast, as well as Imperial Japan on the west coast. The Hollywood Reporter wrote in 2015 that the show was Amazon’s most-streamed original series.
“Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss received criticism after they announced “Confederate” for HBO.
Their drama will chronicle the events leading to the Third American Civil War, taking place in an alternate timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.