29 Days Of Black History – Day 6: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Release Date:  1/31/74
Genre:  Drama/Historical
Rating:  TV-PG
Director:  John Korty
Studio(s):   Tomorrow Entertainment, CBS
Running Time:  110 mins.

Cast:  Cicely Tyson (Jane Pittman), Richard Dysart (Master Bryant), Odetta (Big Laura), Michael Murphy (Quentin Lerner), Rod Perry (Joe Pittman), Arnold Wilkerson (Jimmy), Will Hare (Albert Cluveau).

Details:  The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is a made for television film based on the novel of the same name by Ernest J. Gaines. The film was broadcast on CBS on January 31, 1974.  In this fictionalized biography, Cicely Tyson stars as the 110-year-old Jane Pittman, who recounts the events of her life as they relate to a century of racism in America. Born into slavery in the 1860s, Jane lives through the Civil War and into the civil rights movement.  Ernest J. Gaines wrote the book in 1971 and meant for it to be an archetypal “life” encompassing the black experience in America. Winner of nine Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama of the 1973 – 1974 season, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was one of the most acclaimed television movies of all time.

Story:   Jane Pittman is celebrating her 110th birthday in 1962. She lives in the old slave quarters on a plantation outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When Quentin Lerner, a reporter from the East, comes to interview her, she obliges with the story of her life.

Jane recalls her experiences as a slave girl during the Civil War; her re-naming experience one year before the Emancipation Proclamation; her abortive trek to freedom in Ohio; her years working as a field hand; her brief period of happiness as the wife of Joe Pittman, a black cowboy; her sorrow over the murder of Ned, a schoolteacher who tried to establish a school for blacks in the early 1900s; and her mixed feelings about black activism in the civil rights movement.


Jane endures the misery and hardships that come her way repeatedly over the years. Her story reveals the persistence of racial prejudice, evident in the acts of murderous violence that take away loved ones and the patronizing attitudes of the whites she serves most of her life.  Her autobiography is a chronicle of quiet heroism ant that is why on the day when she makes her final and conclusive stand for freedom, her act has all the emotional force and telling impact of a century of preparation.  Source(s):  Wikipedia; spiritualityandpractice.com; Fandor; Rotten Tomatoes; Daarac.org; IMDB; Culvercitycrossroads.com.


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