'Enslaved' Episode 1 Preview: Sunken slave ships explored and Samuel L Jackson’s emotional homecoming

In the episode titled 'Cultures Left Behind', Jackson calls himself a "lost son that returned" and says the visit "put a link back in my chain that was broken"

                            'Enslaved' Episode 1 Preview: Sunken slave ships explored and Samuel L Jackson’s emotional homecoming

The six-part docuseries 'Enslaved' kicks off on September 14 with Hollywood icon and activist Samuel L. Jackson holding the narrative together. The docuseries will shed new light on 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the "New World".

Episode 1 'Cultures Left Behind' launches the epic story about the transatlantic slave trade. Divers from 'Diving With a Purpose' (DWP) go in search of sunken slave ships. Using new diving technology – such as advanced 3D mapping and ground-penetrating radar – to locate and examine sunken slave ships on three continents, the episode will reveal an entirely new perspective on the history of the transatlantic slave trade.

A short clip released on Facebook shows scenes from Episode 1, where Jackson speaks in a voiceover, as the camera tracks his jeep through the winding dirt roads through a jungle in Gabon, Africa, to reach his final destination -- his ancestral village of the Benga tribe. He calls himself a "lost son that returned" and says the visit "put a link back in my chain that was broken". The clip shows some of the tribe's ceremonies around welcoming Jackson back into the fold. After Jackson emotionally embraces members of his tribe, close to tears, we see him speak to the camera, saying "it touches something inside me".

The first episode will also touch upon how "when Africans came to the New World, they not only brought their own cultures with them but created a new culture in ways that we are just beginning to understand". This might be referring to developments like for instance the African American Vernacular English (AAVE) dialect that goes back to slaves inventing their own separate version of English to speak with other slaves to form a sense of unity and identity and communication without White people interfering with or understanding what they were saying.

The series overall will also track the efforts of DWP collaborating with The National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS), as they search for and locate six slave ships that sank drowning the enslaved humans aboard. Featuring the most dives ever made on sunken slave ships, 'Enslaved' will also chronicle the first positive identification of a “Freedom Ship,” an American schooner that ferried African American runaways to Canada.


Episode 1's core story will revolve around Jackson embarking on a personal journey to meet the tribe of his ancestors for the first time. Based on a DNA test identifying his ancestral tribe, the episode will trace Jackson’s personal journey from the U.S. to Gabon for his induction into the Benga tribe, with rare and unprecedented access to secret ceremonies and local customs and Jackson's interaction with the "King of the Benga tribe" and Jackson's homecoming initiation into the tribe. Both Jackson and his wife, LaTanya Richardson, serve as executive producers on the series, which is a passion project. 

'Enslaved' will also celebrate "stories of resistance, accomplishment and hope; the cultures left behind and the culture that we live in presently…a culture that, in many ways, was born in the bowels of those sunken slave ships", according to the promotional material for the series.

'Enslaved' will premiere on Epix on September 14 at 10 pm ET.

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