Episode Six: A More Perfect Union

From Black Power to Black President

By 1968, the Civil Rights movement had achieved stunning victories, in the courts and in the Congress. But would African Americans finally be allowed to achieve genuine racial equality? Episode Six, A More Perfect Union (1968 – 2013), looks at the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the rise of the Black Panthers and Black Power movement.  The decline of cities that African Americans had settled in since the Great Migration, the growth of a black middle class, the vicious beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles and the ascent of Barack Obama from Illinois senator to the presidency of the United States are all addressed in the final episode of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Revisit images of the Black is Beautiful movement and hear commentary from former Black Panther Party member Kathleen Cleaver, former Secretary of State Colin H. Powell, musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and many more.

A More Perfect Union (1968 – 2013) is the final episode of the six-part series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Episode six premieres on PBS on November 26, 2013, 8-9 pm ET.  Check local listings on the broadcast schedule.

Production Credits | | Restricted to U.S. & Territories
  • Angela Shortt

    I sat in a church gymnasium on a folding chair next to my father, holding his hand while we both watched Barack Obama take the oath of office during his Inaugaration. We both wept, openly and completely, without embarassment. Everyone else in that crowded gym was crying, too. We all stood up at once as soon as he finished his speech, laughing, crying and hugging each other, even if we had never seen each other before in our lives. It was an amazing, powerful moment in history. I’ll never forget it. I was born in 1958; my father in 1933. Neither of us ever thought that day would come in our lifetimes. But my six year old grandson has only known one president, and he is a product of a bi-racial relationship, too. To Xavier, having a Black president is perfectly normal. It doesn’t mean that racism is gone. If nothing else, it has proud that hideous social disease to the forefront. But what my grandson has that neither my father or I had growing up is the knowledge thateven the highest office in the world is a possibility for him, or another child of color when they become adults. And knowing that makes me smile.

  • Jeffery Jones

    I saw NORMAN ROCKWELL’S painting of Ruby Bates on that first day of school,at his museum in Stockbridge Massachusetts.She was magnificient!Let’s do this,was written ALL over her face.Then to see the real Ms .Bates in the documentary and eplain the emotions she was exposed to then was wonderfully enlightening.

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