The early 1900s were a time for train travel and progress. The caretakers of the Canadian and US railways were proud Black men who did their jobs despite the prejudice and racism they encountered. In the CBC/BET series The Porter, we see the stories of the men who served their communities and worked in the coveted position of train porter.
With a good job working for the railway and dreams of becoming something more, a lot happens for the Montreal community where the show takes place. You’ll meet the stoic Zeke (Ronnie Rowe Jr.), who is tired of being treated terribly as a porter, and, fuelled by the unnecessary death of a young co-worker, looks for equal rights. Junior (Aml Ameen) is an enterprising bootlegger messing with dangerous people—like the notorious Queenie (Oluniké Adeliyi), a ruthless gangster. He’s supported by his wife, Marlene (Mouna Traoré), who barely puts up with his reckless ambition and works to improve healthcare for the Black community. Then there’s Lucy (Loren Lott), a beautiful dancer at the popular Stardust Club. She’s full of ambition and won’t let her low status get in the way of her pursuit of fame. They’re just a few of the vibrant characters eking out a life as Black Canadians in the 1920s amidst music, mayhem and moments of joy.
Created by Aubrey Nealon and Bruce Ramsay, written by Annmarie Morais, Marsha Greene, and executive produced by Alfre Woodard, the series gives a three-dimensional look at what only a few history books have documented. The Porter explores an often overlooked chapter of Black Canadian history with a gritty and colourful dramatization, paying tribute to the lives, experiences, and families of Black train porters.