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Henry Louis Gates' PBS Documentary to Cover 500 Years of Black History

Henry Louis Gates' PBS Documentary to Cover 500 Years of Black History

Henry Louis Gates' new PBS documentary, The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, will trace 500 years of Black history and will premiere on Oct. 22.

Published August 8, 2013

In an effort to reform the way American classrooms approach the conversation of race, author and scholar Henry Louis Gates will soon introduce a new PBS documentary that will trace 500 years of African-American life.

The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross will be a six-hour special which he hopes will be watched in schools and the living rooms of all Americans, regardless of race. 

"How can I help with the conversation about race? Schools are tools for the formation of citizenship. My target is the school curriculum: getting an integrated story told," he said, according to the Associated Press.

The new film will lead with an account of Blacks' arrival to the New World that is about a century earlier than what is usually reported in textbooks.

Associated Press reports:

"The very first African to come to North America was a free man accompanying Ponce de Leon who arrived in Florida in 1513, more than a century before the first 20 Africans arrived in Jamestown in 1620," Gates said. "Nobody was talking about those first 107 years of African-American history."

Gates has also tried to get the inside story that he says has commonly eluded historians.

"I've always been struck by the quality of conversations in a Black beauty parlor or a Black barber shop, as opposed to what Black officials say or what Black teachers write in a textbook," Gates said, "because we edit ourselves.

Read full story here.

The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross will premiere on Oct. 22. A companion book by the same title will be published on Oct. 1, according to Google Books. 

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(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Written by Natelege Whaley

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