Series Preview

Noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. recounts the full trajectory of African-American history in his groundbreaking new six-part series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, premiering Tuesday, October 22, 2013,  8-9 p.m. ET on PBS. Written and presented by Professor Gates, the six-hour series explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds. Commencing with the origins of slavery in Africa, the series moves through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to the present.

Check the local listings for The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on the broadcast schedule.

Production Credits | | Restricted to U.S. & Territories
  • Rekik Netsanet

    I am very excited to watch the documentary, Professor :)

  • Hazel Russell

    Thank you Dr. Gates and all of the researchers that made this possible. I am very interested in the documentary.

  • cmoon64

    The saying “Discomfort is Always a necessary part of Enlightenment” by Pearl Cleage is apropos for this series hosted by Dr. Gates. As a believer and researcher of history especially regarding the diaspora of many who were victimized by the slave trade; there were some misconceptions that I held. One who advocated that we keep black history month because of so many revisionist presentations by the descendants of those who profited by our enslavement had a reality check. The latter still greatly challenges what I thought I knew. You are going to hear things that he coins “myth” breakers regarding our very complicated and convoluted history. As Malcolm X used to say in essence and not verbatim; Research and find out for yourself and don’t just take my word for what I believe to be the truth. We shall get through this together…though!

  • elizabeth waugh

    I know that many will find this series uncomfortable to watch, but I think it is very important for all of us, no matter race or cultural background, to see the actual history of a people who comprise a large part of the American population. Perhaps it will not only open eyes and hearts but some closed minds! Thank you Dr. Gates and others involved in this for your hard work in making this series possible.

    • Guy Murray

      Like watching the movies The Butler and Mississippi Burning, this will touch the deepest parts of your own personal experiences and shake what you know or thought you knew about a history of a people. Thank you Dr. Gates for taking this journey and providing an open and honest look.

    • ProgressiveDetroiter

      I agree, Everyone should watch. Consider it must have been pretty “uncomfortable” to live the life of a slave.

      • Lavinia Mayfield-Redmond

        lol. u think it was pretty uncomfortable huh? wow

        • John Sorenson

          I think Elizabeth has comfortably explained her position. Although I value opinions lets not lose sight of the focus of Dr. Gates work.

          • elizabeth waugh

            Thank you Mr. Sorenson. The last thing I intended was to offend anyone. I see that my choice of words was offensive and am sorry.

      • elizabeth waugh

        I am sorry for the stupid use of the word uncomfortable. Please see comment I posted a few minutes ago.

    • Lavinia Mayfield-Redmond

      “many” will find it uncomfortable to watch??? Wrong choice of words…if many are finding this uncomfortable to watch then they are part of the problem

      • elizabeth waugh

        Please see comment I posted a few minutes ago. I apologize for the terrible use of “uncomfortable to watch”. I see how offensive that was.

  • Tawani

    Great intro … can’t wait for the complete series.

  • somosuno2013 .

    Professor Gates : “I would have flunked slavery.” For real. There would have been no offspring after me, because “they” would have killed me! How does Stevie Wonder put it? “…God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed…” ? Dang.

  • Katrina McGee

    Absolutely necessary!!! How soon we forget at what our ancestors went through!! Most of us take it for granted and need a reminder. Our history is NOT taught to us in schools, therefore we must do our OWN research to learn who we are and how we have persevered, and over came time and time again. Thank you!!

  • carol durante


  • RJ’s

    It is extremely important to know the beginnings… and to pass it on to each generation. I researched “The Srickland’s” to Georgia in 1826; and then found a link to North Carolina. To ensure the information would be available to others, I posted as mush as I could on I also had the DNA test and posted it as well.

  • Charmaine Spence

    will be watching. shared on Facebook and twitter

  • Blac Barbie

    My God I cant wait to see this film

  • Tommy Amico

    Outstanding, Sir!

  • Kouta K. Kahn

    I absolutely just loved the first episode. I have to own this electrifying series!!! I knew must of the facts in the first episode but yet captivated to hear them again. Every human being in America should watch this. Especially of color. Sadly most don’t know our history. Even more sadder of a tale, most don’t want to know.

  • elizabeth waugh

    Sorry about the lousy choice of words “uncomfortable to watch”. I realize now how offensive that sounded. But the main point of my comment was that watching this excellent series could hopefully open the eyes and minds of many who, like me, only thought they knew about the horrific and incredible suffering of so many African Americans brought over the Atlantic Ocean for the gain of the white man. Problem is even in 2013 too many people of color are still being treated like second class citizens or worse. The recent atrocity of the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell who was only seeking assistance after a serious auto accident is only one example of many! He found no assistance!! Not from the woman at the house he went to seek help. Why? I believe she opened her door only to find a black man standing there and immediately and mistakenly thought she was in danger. Her hysterical 911 call terrible atrocity # 1. The police response which resulted in one officer shooting Mr. Ferrell 10 times terrible, horrific atrocity #2. In spite of the officer being charged for the shooting, the police department involved stating that incident just an “unfortunate accident” was deliberate effort to deny racial element in these atrocities!!. If Mr. Ferrell had been a white man the out come would have been very different!!

    • Mariah Rucker

      I absolutely agree with your statement. Countless times have their been cases like Jonathan Ferrell, and the government and police force do nothing regarding the situation but say, “It’s a misfortunate accident”. It’s time for the African American community to become aware of their surroundings. Not only are we still living in a racial segregated society, but African Americans are still are in danger of the white man. I hope and pray we as a race can wake up and smell the roses and learn about our history. If not, history will be destined to repeat itself.

      • elizabeth waugh

        Thank you for your reply. I could write several books giving truthful examples of the outrageous racism that still exists in this country!! I am a white woman raised in Alabama. I was 20 in 1963, I witnessed myself the horrible things that were done to African Americans who were peacefully assembling to demand the rights that should have been theirs all along. I believe that this series should be required in all grade schools for children of all races to better understand the history of African Americans. Of course, a baby is not born with prejudice against any race. That is taught by hateful, ignorant parents!! They may have PHD’s but if they teach their children to hate they are as ignorant as someone who has no education at all.

  • Haiti_1804

    Talking about beating the odds…Haiti was lucky. Who knows how long this thing would have last.

  • Haiti_1804

    The biggest injustice was Haiti had to pay France for reparation. While the whole world watched. The amount is close to $30,000,000,000 if not more in today’ s money. when Aristid asked for that money to pay back to the Haitian people. United States was the first to ask to get rid of Aristid. Ask yourself why?

  • Pamela Brown

    At the nadir (the lowest point) of which Frederick Douglass had made his own famous declaration to the people of Rochester, N.Y., on July 5, 1852: “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license, your national greatness, swelling vanity.” Wow…this is an eye-opener in celebrating the 4th of July.

  • John E. Vargo

    Is this show really necessary? it seems like we are bombarded by black stuff every day.

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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.