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<---Part 1: 1450-1750
Part 2: 1750-1805
Part 3: 1791-1831
Part 4: 1831-1865

Narrative | Resource Bank | Teacher's Guide

Introduction | Questions and Activities | Lesson Focus | Resources | Program Index

Teacher's Guide Contents
The following index describes each episode of Africans in America, divided into approximately 20-minute segments, so that you can more easily select clips to use in the classroom.

In addition to using this tool, you may want to purchase the PBS VIDEOindex® version of the series, available from PBS Video at (800) 344-3337. This special version includes a comprehensive, printed index identifying people, places, events, issues, and topics and the segments in which they appear for each video of the series, as well as a time-coded video so that you can choose the exact location where a specific segments are located.

We have also expanded the list of Notable People and Curriculum Links available in the printed Teacher's Guide. You may use the segments on the Notable People, who are mentioned in the program, to create lessons or to add to your existing lessons. The Curriculum Links are topics and events covered in the series that you can use to expand and broaden units you teach.


Segment One (approximately 10 minutes)

Starting image: Image of a distant ship on the water

• In April 1607 the Jamestown colony is founded. Few can endure the hardship of the new country; by the spring of 1610, only 60 out of 500 settlers are left.

• In 1619, a Spanish ship trades a cargo of Africans for food. These Africans, baptized Christians, are purchased as indentured servants like most Europeans.

• The colonists establish tobacco as a profitable crop; the Africans supply much-needed labor for the tobacco crop. The more land and labor a colonist acquires, the more profit he can make.

• Initially, colonists rely on white indentured servants as a labor force. English settlers sign indenture forms--a contract that defines length of service and the conditions of servitude--to guarantee their labor in exchange for passage to Virginia.

• Virginia's "headright" system entitles a planter to fifty acres of land for each servant brought into the colony. By 1622 three thousand new settlers arrive in Virginia.

• In 1624 the first "Negro" child, William Tucker, is born in the colony.

Segment Two (approximately 5 minutes)

Starting image: Smoke over the trees

• In March 1622 thirty nations of the Powhatan Confederacy kill 350 colonists over violations of land treaties. On the Bennett plantation only 12 out of 52 people survive, among them a man whose name appears in the 1625 Virginia census as a servant, "Antonio the Negro." Antonio eventually changes his name to Anthony Johnson and marries a "Negro" servant named Mary who bears four children.

• By 1640 the couple are no longer servants and acquire their own modest estate.

• Anthony Johnson enjoys the same privileges as free Englishmen. In Northampton county, Johnson lives among nearly 20 free African men and women, 13 of whom own their own homes.

Segment Three (approximately 3 minutes)

Starting image: Men cutting through the woods with machetes

• In the 1640s society begins to limit opportunities for African Americans. The English definition of who can be enslaved begins to shift from non-Christian to non-white. White indentured servants tried for running away are punished by adding two to five years to their contract. For the same crime, a black servant is indentured for the "rest of his natural life."

• In 1641 Massachusetts becomes the first British colony to recognize slavery as a legal institution. Connecticut follows in 1650, Maryland in 1663, and New York and New Jersey in 1664.

• A Virginia court legalizes slavery in 1661 and a year later decides that children born in the colony will be free or slave according to the condition of the mother.

• Slavery comes to be defined by race and perpetuated through heredity.

Segment Four (approximately 7 minutes)

Starting image: A field of tobacco

• The colonial government faces a growing shortage of servant labor and an increasing problem of what to do with indentured servants who have finished their terms of indenture. By law, these people receive "freedom dues," including land, money, and guns.

• In 1661 servant rebellions grow and in 1676 civil war breaks out in Virginia. The unrest created by the indentured servant system makes racial slavery preferable for those in power.

• In 1672 the King of England encourages the Royal African company to expand the British slave trade. Within 16 years the company transports nearly 90,000 Africans to the Americas.

• In 1691 landowners pass a law stating that it is illegal to free a black slave unless he is leaving the colony.

• The economies of most colonies increasingly depends upon slavery.

Segment Five (approximately 10 minutes)

Starting image: A picture of the sky, with clouds obscuring the sun

• Anthony Johnson moves his family north to Maryland. He dies on his 300-acre farm. Johnson's grandson adds to the property and the Johnson family prospers.

• In 1750 Virginia passes laws defining the distinction between a slave and a servant, relegating all slaves to the status of property.

• Anthony Johnson's grandson dies without an heir and the family plantation disappears from the record books.

• In 1698 the English Parliament ends the monopoly of the African slave trade by the Royal African Company. As a result, the number of Africans transported to the British colonies increases from 5,000 to 45,000 a year. England becomes the largest trafficker in slaves in the Western world.

• The story of Olaudah Equiano, a son of a tribal elder in Africa sold into slavery, begins.

• In West Africa more than 20 million people are kidnapped into slavery. Only half survive the journey to the coast; Equiano is one of them.

Segment Six (approximately 15 minutes)

Starting image: Sunset on seashore through palm trees

• The brutal and horrifying 60- to 90-day trip from West Africa to the New World, becomes known as the "middle passage." Many slaves rebel as they are being transported to America.

• English merchants and their slaves move to South Carolina, where they continue the cruel traditions of the plantation system of Barbados.

• The Middleton family is one of the first to arrive from Barbados in 1678. Rice, the popular cash crop in South Carolina, brings them wealth. By 1706 they triple the size of their holdings.

• Francis Le Jau becomes the first full-time Anglican minister in South Carolina. He preaches that all men, regardless of color, have immortal souls. He is a precursor to the Anglican missionaries.

Segment Seven (approximately 12 minutes)

Starting image: Sunrise

• By 1710 Africans begin to outnumber Europeans in the colonies. The colonial legislature passes laws to control the growing black majority.

• As England goes to war with Spain, rumors start that the Spanish will grant freedom to slaves in Florida. Plantation owners live in fear of retaliation and rebellion by their slaves.

• On September 9, 1739 a slave named Jemmy leads the Stono Rebellion, a revolt which begins with 20 Angolan slaves on a march toward St. Augustine and freedom.

• White settlers catch up with the slaves and kill fifteen men. The rest are surrounded, questioned, and then shot.

• In response to the Stono Rebellion, the "Negro Act" takes away Africans' freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and outlaws their right to earn money or to read.

• The Negro Act becomes the model for slave laws throughout the colonies.

Segment Eight (approximately 12 minutes)

Starting image: A winter stream

• By 1740 New York City has the highest density of slave population besides Charleston South Carolina.

• However, African Americans in New York have relative freedom of movement and control over their own time.

• On March 18, 1741 a fire breaks out in the governor's official residence. White colonists worry that this is an act of rebellion by African slaves.

• In response nearly every African American male over 16 years old is jailed.

• In return for her freedom from servitude, Mary Burton claims that African American men were part of the plot.

• Over the next year, some 160 slaves and at least a dozen whites are accused of conspiracy against the city of New York. Over forty Africans are put to death and 4 whites are hung.

• By 1750 slavery exists everywhere in the 13 colonies. But the argument over who will be free and who will be equal has just begun.

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