The Book Of Negroes is of the most important literary works to come out of Canada. It’s about a woman called Aminata, born in West Africa, kidnapped and sold to slavery in America – a difficult but necessary read. The story was turned into a miniseries airing in Canada on the CBC and in the US on BET and cleaned up at the Canadian Screen Awards this week, including Best Actress in a Series last night for Aunjanue Ellis. I watched it last year, just before the holidays. Some nights, after some scenes, I couldn’t sleep. Because as much as we want to believe it was so long ago and so far away…it isn’t. It continues.

Aunjanue attended the event in red dress with the message “President Obama Take It Down” emblazoned over the skirt. She’s worn similar dresses at previous events, most recently at the NAACP Image Awards in February:

What she’s referring to is the confederate flag and the fact that it is still present in Washington and that is part of the Mississippi state flag. Aunjanue was raised in Mississippi and she told reporters last night that:

“We want President Obama to send a bill to Congress demanding that it be taken down on all federal properties. We need people to pay attention to the issue.”

As for why this should be a Canadian issue at a Canadian show:

“You’re part of the world,” said Ellis. “The United States does not work in isolation; Mississippi does not work in isolation. More than ever we all need each other. There’s a lot miseducation, a lot of lack of education about what the confederacy means. It says very clearly in Mississippi’s statement of succession that this is about slavery. And all of us, Canadians, Americans, British, wherever you are in the world, we are interconnected and if we give this kind of thinking shelter, it continues, it flourishes. We can’t allow that.”

Aunjanue is currently on Quantico and also has a part in Nate Parker’s Birth Of A Nation. That film took over Sundance in January and many are expecting it to make a run during the next award season.