Minorities in comics and animation: Moses (“Liberty’s Kids”)

Liberty's KidsYep, another educational entry! This week’s entry is Moses, a character from the early 2000s PBS Kids series “Liberty’s Kids.”

Background

“Liberty’s Kids” is a series focusing on the American Revolution. The main characters are a group of youths who work in Ben Franklin’s print shop. The youths thus got to experience the various events leading up to, and involving, the American Revolution.

Bizarrely (in the show’s main break from reality), the kids didn’t age a day, despite the series covering events from 1773 to 1789.

Ben Franklin himself was voiced by Walter Cronkite.

The series manages to cover the events leading up to/involving the war pretty thoroughly. It also doesn’t shy away from some of the negative aspects of early American life. For example, episodes focused on the Founding Fathers owning slaves. Besides the stories, the episodes also contain some bumpers giving various facts about colonial-era life.

Among the many celebrity guest voices for this series include Whoopi Goldberg (as Deborah Sampson) and Yolanda King (Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, who voiced Elizabeth Freeman).

Moses (voiced by D. Kevin Williams) is a youth brought from Africa as a slave, who manages to earn his freedom and eventually learns to read and write. Moving to Philadelphia, Moses finds work at Ben Franklin’s print shop, where (as the oldest) he keeps an eye on the other youths in the cast: James (an American whose family was killed by a lightning storm); Sarah (a British girl who traveled to the colonies to search for her father, and is mostly loyal to the British crown); and Henri, the youngest (an orphaned French boy).

The series gives Moses his share of subplots, including those dealing with slavery, as well as covering the fate of his brother, who ends up fighting for the British. The series’ finale sees Moses planning to start his own school for children of all races.

On TV/home video

Since its time on PBS, the series aired briefly in syndication, minus the trivia bumpers to allow for commercials.

The entire series (40 episodes) is available on DVD.

(Updated 11/14/16)

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