Common Is Bringing Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon to TV

Common attends the ‘Hunter Killer’ World Premiere at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
Common attends the ‘Hunter Killer’ World Premiere at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
Photo: Theo Wargo (Getty Images)

Lonnie “Common” Lynn is adapting an instant classic, y’all. The Chicago-born rapper reportedly acquired the rights to Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon, the 2018 critically acclaimed account of the last slave ship to bring slaves to the United States, Clotilda. Additionally, the novel explores Hurston’s 1931 interview with Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the American slave trade. Lewis died in 1935, at the age of 94.


Hurston’s May 2018 novel was published 81 years after her most well-known work, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

According to, the upcoming project is being described as a “limited television event series,” and will come from Common’s production company, Freedom Road Productions, as part of their partnership with Lionsgate. No word yet on whether the rapper-actor hyphenate will appear in the series.

A “barracoon” was the compact cage used to hold slaves, who were typically referred to as “black cargo,” as Lewis was. Lewis’ story was especially notable as he and approximately 109 other slaves were kidnapped in 1858, during which time human importation had been illegal for a while. However, a group of wealthy men and their “investors” somehow evaded the law and Lewis spent five years as shipbuilder on Timothy Meaher’s property. Following emancipation, he and other slaves founded the Africatown settlement in Mobile, Alabama, which still holds descendants to this day.

As Deadline reports, this is the second project from the Freedom Road Productions and Lionsgate collaboration. Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club is in development for TV from the partners.

Common portrayed freed slave Elam Ferguson in the 2011 television series, Hell on Wheels, to acclaimed reviews.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.


Old white guy

Wait, I thought Common was some gangsta rapper who just sings about killing cops. I saw it on Fox News when he was invited by Obama to the white house...

I guess he’s cleaned up his act since he and obama did their drive-by’s back 8 years ago.