As part of Black History Month, which kicks off today, Disneyland has installed a new preshow in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln honoring abolition activist and former slave Frederick Douglass. The icon’s relationship with President Lincoln was tenuous at first, although he grew to respect the now-iconic president as the Civil War progressed.
You can watch the new preshow above, or keep reading for context.
The new preshow is advertised prominently at the attraction entrance. The video was developed in partnership with National Geographic.
The preshow opens with a chorus singing a spiritual from the slave era “Wade in the Water” before a speech by Douglass late in his life referencing Lincoln’s role in abolition is read aloud.
Douglass was born into slavery in the South before escaping and becoming a figure of abolition from the northern United States. He dedicated his life and legacy to abolishing the practice of slavery and ensuring equality for all under the law, particularly African-Americans.
Douglass and Lincoln had a tense relationship at first, but found common ground and came to respect each other greatly as the war dragged on. Dramatized readings of speech excerpts from both are heard throughout the 11-minute show to accent the story, primarily from Douglass. He’s said to be one of the greatest orators in American history, captivating audiences nationwide and helping to dispel the belief that black people were incapable of literacy.
Photos from throughout Douglass’ life tell the story of his escape from slavery and his journey to becoming first a figure for abolition, then politically active for African-American equal rights during Reconstruction. Douglass was an avid believer in photography to document injustices, as he believed that the camera could not obfuscate the truth the same way a portrait or drawing easily could.
His work was not in vain as we know, as the 13th and 14th Amendments did pass, outlawing slavery except as punishment, and granting all African-Americans citizenship. Douglass then turned his attention to the burgeoning inequalities in the south, which eventually became discriminatory Jim Crow laws and other tactics employed to keep black people segregated.
Interviews from historians as well as the third great grandson of Frederick Douglass supplement the story, helping to give historical context and tell stories related to the speech excerpts heard in the video.
His legacy lives on today, with his story and beliefs inspiring great minds from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to former President Barack Obama.
And of course, the segment on creating Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln featuring Walt Disney is still part of the preshow.
The new segment is set to continue in the show beyond Black History Month, honoring Douglass’ legacy alongside our nation’s greatest President in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
Are you excited to see this new preshow honoring Frederick Douglass? Let us know in the comments below!
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