19th century Black Elite Revealed in ‘The Gilded Age‘
If you believe that the Gilded Age belonged solely to white men like Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, HBO’s new series is challenging you to think again.
The Gilded Age debuted in January of this year. Showcasing the significant contributions made by people of colour during this era.
In episode four of the series, the show gives viewers a deeper insight into the life of Peggy Scott who lives with her family in a beautiful Brooklyn brownstone. We see the family is well educated, business owners, and have a full staff.
Denée Benton, who plays Peggy Scott, had this to say about her current role:
“There’s so many limiting perspectives for Black people and Black artists, what we take in from the media, from our history books about what we can and can’t be,” she said. “The idea of being the first is kind of this illusion that keeps you cut off from your power and from your history. I always dealt with not quite feeling like I belonged. Then I saw Peggy and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve always existed.’”
Benton’s character is a Black woman writer. Whose story lines are inspired by the likes of other historical Black women writers such as Ida B. Wells and Julia C. Collins.
Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a Rutgers University-New Brunswick historian, also served as the series co-executive producer for “The Gilded Age.”
She earlier told the Los Angeles Times that she intended “to create a Black elite that respected and centered things like education, thrift, religious piety. Things that would perhaps add to the arsenal to protect themselves from racial discrimination.”
“The Gilded Age” is of course just a show. The series does an amazing job portraying the Black elite of this era.
“I want Black people to see that kind of freedom and access to what the story that’s always been there is and always will be,” Benton added. “I want the United States at large to really just take ownership of the true diversity that has made up this nation, and that the story that we see doesn’t exist without every type of person existing on every level.”