With the discussions about Harriet Tubman of late I had been trying to remember a made-for-kids-TV movie from the early 70s in which a young man escaped from slavery and all I could remember was a constant refrain “follow the north star” (it comes up in Harriet too). I have only vague memories of it and I couldn’t remember the name of the film. Since I was watching stuff about Tubman and the Railroad, this popped up on my youtube recommendations. As it turns out, the film was entitled “Follow the North Star.” Go figure.

I remember it was an after school special. My parents both worked so I spent afternoons with a baby-sitter down the street who made a few bucks watching other parents’ kids until the parents came home. I remember that she was a bit conservative and told a friend of hers that “I’m happy to make some money watching the children, but a woman’s place is in the home” in reference to mothers who worked.

Anyway, normally we watched Kimba, Speed Racer, and the New Zoo Review on her television if we didn’t go out to play. But her son was flipping through the channels and this film was on. We watched it for about 15 minutes before his mother came from the back room and changed the channel saying, “This is depressing kids. America needs to move forward not backwards!”

This was during the Nixon-McGovern campaign so everything was politically charged. She was actually a nice enough woman. As a snack she sometimes served us hot dogs rolled into a corn tortilla with mustard and it stuck with me well into adulthood. (Nothing but mustard – keep it simple). But I was, in the third grade, disappointed when she turned off an educational program for cartoons because it was “depressing.”

However, it did air more than once and I was finally able to watch it at my own home at some point. I had known about slavery from books and class lessons, but I think watching this film brought it home to me. I have no idea how well written or accurate it was as I haven’t had the opportunity to rewatch it. But to my 8-year-old mind it made the concept more personal – sinking in that real people I could relate to actually lived as slaves.

Anyway, I’ll watch it later and if I have anything intelligent to say about it I will post it.