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Episode One: The Black Atlantic

The Black Atlantic explores the truly global experiences that created the African American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented “20-and-odd” slaves arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, the episode portrays the earliest Africans, both slave and free, who arrived on the North American shores. Soon afterwards, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would become a vast empire connecting three continents. Through stories of individuals caught in its web, like a 10-year-old girl named Priscilla who was transported from Sierra Leone to South Carolina in the mid-18th century, we trace the emergence of plantation slavery in the American South. The late 18th century saw a global explosion of freedom movements, and The Black Atlantic examines what that Era of Revolutions—American, French and Haitian—would mean for African Americans, and for slavery in America.

The Black Atlantic, episode one of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,  premieres on PBS on October 22, 2013, 8-9 pm ET.  Check the local listings on the broadcast schedule.

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The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is a film by Kunhardt McGee Productions, THIRTEEN Productions LLC, Inkwell Films, in assocation with Ark Media.