The Black Atlantic (1500 – 1800). Full Episode

The Black Atlantic explores the truly global experiences that created the African American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented 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 is episode one of  the six-part series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,  premiering on PBS on October 22, 2013, 8-9 pm ET.  Check local listings on the broadcast schedule.

Production Credits | | Restricted to U.S. & Territories
  • DaGeneralPatton♑

    at work, watching this for a 2nd time. this history…these stories…AMAZING! thank you so much Prof. Gates and PBS and all the Historians. Is there a soundtrack…and a cookbook? LOL

    • lwanveer

      I know! the food segment was awesome!

    • Amma Mama

      Professor Gates was grubbing, I ain’t mad though…lol

  • david dortch

    freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitudes.

  • Franklin

    I would love to have Dr. Gates do my family history. They were an integral part in forming the Hobson Village in Virginia. But records burned during the two great fires of Suffolk. We’re having a hard time gathering info. And money for this type of work…. well just look at the economy. I’m loving this series already.

  • disqus_aKsRvWv1ec

    omg lol

  • Charles Simpson

    Regarding the narrator’s statement at the end of episode one of this awesome documentary: “African American culture was born in the mixing of people and ideas from all over the Atlantic world. Mixing made us strong; it gave us hope; it sustained us.”

    For the vast majority of African American, it wasn’t mixing that made them strong, gave them hope, or sustained them; it was the embracing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the birthing of a whole new genre of music called the Negro Spirituals that sustained them. Quoting the greatest African American worship leader I’ve ever heard:

    “Torn from their homeland and forcefully transplanted to a strange new country where the basic human rights was stripped away and replaced by barbarian and shameful treatment, these remarkable individuals managed to survive as a race of people. Amazingly they adopted their oppressor’s religion, welcoming Christianity’s message of a loving, forgiving God despite the fact that they seldom saw that message lived out by those who claim to believe it. The very circumstances that were meant to subject those enslaved and restrict and repress the cry of pain were instead used as vehicles to release songs of victory.” (From Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit: 101 Best-Loved Psalms, Gospel Hymns & Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church by Gwendolin Sims Warren)

    • Cliff Fornwalt

      I think adopting Christianity counts as mixing African and European cultural ideas. I also would note that spirtuals are generally written in melodic 4/4 or 2/4 time mixed with African rhythms. I’m not arguing with you. I just think your examples support, rather than disagree with the thesis of the piece.

      Remember that there wasn’t darkness for the entire world, then along came Jesus, and there was light (that is true only metaphorically). Jesus came to life and prominence within an existing historical context, and Christianity came to converted populations within their own historical contexts, as well. The bible is not the sole source of all human knowledge, strength and experience.

      • Charles Simpson

        One of the strongest points of Christianity is that we love and respect all people, even if their worldview is very different than ours. Our worldview, according to Paul’s inspired writings in the New Testament is that Christ is the Creator and sustainer of all things; and all things exist because of, by, and for HIm: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist…In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 1:14, 17, 2:3)


        • Cliff Fornwalt

          I’ve read Islamisist rhetoric and found it interesting in that there are few attempts to make points in a logical way – as we expect in western rhetoric. Instead, they simply quote scripture repeatedly, in ways that don’t really seem to make their points. It’s as if the ability to accurately quote scripture lends unassailable credence to their other arguments. When I read such islamisist rhetoric, I appreciate that our western rhetoric doesn’t generally do that.

          Then I read this post.

          I don’t disrespect your religion or faith. Quite the contrary. I just question the need to assign all credit for all of history to Jesus. ALL THINGS come from Jesus? Even mass killings by Hitler, Stalin, Genghis Khan, and others? Even all the anti-Christian activities of other world religions? (I know… we can’t understand his designs… the spackle argument).
          Look, not everything can all be reduced to that one thing. I wish life were so simple that we could give this one explanation to all 5 year old kids (that Jesus is the answer to every question), and we would never have to delve any deeper our whole lives.

          Unfortunately, I live in the real world… where Christians enslaved people and murdered them en masse… and it was IN VIOLATION of the teachings of Jesus. How could Jesus expect such huge violations of his teachings as part of his grand plan, but then we are all still supposed to follow his teachings?

          Nope… Jesus had no hand in slavery. Sorry.

          • wildstyle

            youre right the gospel is simple. Humans arent good and are more prone to evil. That is what makes Jesus amazing to love people who are sinners.


            All the killing and violations is not from JESUS but the people that don,t believe in JESUS.People that don’t believe in JESUS are the Satans force against good.

          • Cliff Fornwalt

            The people who enslaved African Americans certainly believed that they were Christians. Southerners that perpetuated Jim Crow thought they were Christians. People who kill abortion doctors believe they are Christians. Americans who gave smallpox-infested blankets to indigenous Americans thought they were Christians.

            You can look back at all these people and say, in retrospect, that they weren’t true Christians. However, when you look at people today, it’s harder to see clearly. People who believe themselves to be Christians do all manner of bad things and think it’s right: they deny rights and acceptance to homosexual Americans. They turn away starving children at the border. They advocate arming the population despite overwhelming evidence that people so often use weapons for evil deeds. People who do these things truly believe themselves to be Christians. I bet someone will be leaving a comment in 50 years on a website saying they weren’t true believers.

            Your retrospective judgement about the piety of these individuals is irrelevant historically, and very dangerous in that it prevents modern Christians from internalizing the lessons of the misdeeds of historical Christians.

    • Diana Thompson

      In terms of the importance of Christianity and Negro Spirituals, I’d like to mention the importance of the Old Testament, particularly the Exodus story of the Israelites in bondage and freedom, in giving slaves strength, hope, and courage. Moses, as readers may know, shows up in a number of Spirituals and is the name taken by Harriet Tubman as a conductor of the Underground Railroad, as examples.

  • Ray Fennell

    I don’t think white’s in this country realize how fortunate they are that we as black americans aren’t holding on to hate .When I see stuff like this , sometimes intense feelings of hate well up in me . I let them go though . All I want is a chance to make a life for myself and my children , and to live in peace in this land we call home …. but don’t push you luck tho… jus sayin’

    • Cliff Fornwalt

      I most certainly do recognize that we (white and black) are very lucky that justified anger and hatred doesn’t express itself more often. I remember the LA riots in the 1990′s, and nobody benefited from that. I’m also very aware how lucky we are that indigenous Americans don’t rise up more often (like happened a few times in the 1960′s)… or that Mexicans or Mexican Americans don’t rise up in retribution for us taking half their country and then treating them as second class citizens. These are very real wrongs, and a lot of white people feel guilt over them. For all the good America has done, it has done some serious wrong. Other governments get around this by falling and being reconstituted in another, less blamable form. We have mostly peaceful, legal revolutions, so it appears that the same government has been in power, unbroken and bearing residual responsibility for these past wrongs. It’s a good topic for debate. Still, our penchant for largely peaceful revolutions is the main reason why we haven’t suffered true calamity since the Civil War, and why we are still so powerful today. I agree with you that the best way forward is for us all to be civil and respect the feelings and protect the freedoms and opportunities of all of us. The alternative is unthinkable.

      • Cliff Fornwalt

        I meant calamity on the scale that completely destroys the country and requires it to be rebuilt again.

      • Taz

        I’m from So Cal and definitely remember the 90s riots,I was 10 years old. We couldn’t go to school or grocery shop, it was a very scary time.

    • Nef Diop

      Amen to that. I am continental African and feel the same way… Imagine how Blacks feel in South Africa.


      The only hate the blacks should have is against there forefathers they are the ones that sold them into slavery.

      • Susan Woodfin

        Every culture has slavery going back to the beginning of time. The type of slavery that Africans went through upon arriving in Carribeans, Americas and so forth is a level that is simply not measurable. AND by the way did not simply end with the abolution of slavery but afterwards. Slavery is not just Slavery although neither is justifiable. AND Africans were not responsible for the entire takings of their brothers from the land.

        • GUEST #1

          Africans were responsible for the trade just like a business transaction between two people. “slaves” were not “taken” they were sold. theres a difference.

          • Sasha

            You obviously do not know the history of it. It started off that way, then they (your ancestors) became greedy (like they always do) and then TOOK them! Also, what they did to the Africans once they arrived here does not make what you said valid to their evil toward them. You just tried to justify the atrocities… Which makes you…?

          • GUEST #1

            I really don’t know what you are talking about, “justifying”. Judging by your comment you have assumed my nationality to be what… ? American? No. I am African and I think this point if view that Africans were weak willed people that could have people intrude their land and just “take” things is absurd. There was a working system in west Africa that saw slaves actually being sold and not taken away from them. They did not know how the Americans/Europeans were going to treat them they thought it would be in the same humane way that they treated them. The meaning of “slave” there was very different. Whatever was done to them once they left could not be their fault, after all who returned to the land and told them about all the horrible atrocities?

      • P. White

        Excuse me Mr. Price, but what planet are u from? You must be white for u to make such a asinine comment. How could slaves forefathers sold them into slavery when their were slaves themselves? Keep it simple Sir: WHITES were the slave trappers, slave traders, racist slave owners, and the ones who started it all! Whites were racist against ANY RACE that was not white! And if u r white, u need to take a look at yr own FOREFATHERS and put the blame where it should be! Watch Roots, Mandingo, Drum, Topango and expand yr education.

        • P. White

          And keep in mind that black people are the only race in America that did not ask to come to America. The question that remains unanswered is who was the white man thatwho woke up that morning somewhere( projection) between 16

          • P. White

            continued….between 1616 -1618 and said: “Hey, why dont we go to Africa, and capture and force blacks to do our biddings”?

        • Guest #2

          Reading the comment made me laugh. How can you tell him that he is wrong when in fact he is right? And saying that he must be white? Is that not a racist comment? And to answer your question sir, the man who suggested that Europeans use slaves as their need for forced labor was a man named Las Casas. And he knew to go to Africa because the Congo were one of the largest slave distributors in the country. They sold slaves from conquered tribes to other parts of Africa and throughout the middle east. Whites did not invade Africa to find their slaves, they were welcomed by the people of the Eastern coast of Africa. So next time before jumping on someones back you should probally check your sources.

          • Nica La

            Why don’t you check your historical facts? Slavery in Africa had a completely different concept than slavery in Europe. It’s really aggravating when people assume they are the same. Slaves in Africa not only had the opportunity to buy their freedom but also the chance to rise in rank and social status. And whites did invade Africa to find their slaves. They, through false manipulations of trading outdated weaponry and other barely usable goods, convinced the tribes to conqueror other tribes through tribal warfare and lets not forget this important fact because the Portuguese were known for doing this, if the tribe they had negotiated with did NOT capture slaves than that entire tribe itself was forcefully taken back to be transported as slaves. There are also several incidents that need to be noted of European powers just blatantly going into Africa and taking whatever blacks they found as slaves.

      • Madi

        This is a common argument that whites use to excuse their ancestors but, to be frank, it’s bullshit. Yes, Africans did sell their countrymen into slavery, but are they also responsible for what the Africans had to endure during the Transatlantic journey? Are they also responsible for the horror that Africans, and then American born black slaves, had to endure once they reached the West? I think not.

      • Sasha

        I guess India is to blame, Natives Indians are to blame, Hawaiians are to blame, Aboriginals are to blame, South Africans…shame; you are a definite product of your forefathers, I’m sure this makes you very proud. Evil doesn’t become you, hopefully, one day you’ll see that.

      • Regina Tucker

        Someone who has never walked the experience should avoid trying to express the feelings of another person who is living the experience. What this means, for example, is I am not white, so I would never TELL you how you should feel as a white person. If you feel a certain way, it is a valid feeling. I can try and express to you why I feel a certain way and all you should try to do is put yourself in that persons shoes if you really want to try and understand. Otherwise, you have made up your mind while you sit in denial. You believe what you want to believe because it make you feel better about yourself. It does nothing to resolve the feelings of those who are experiencing the pain.

    • ImaMe

      While I agree watching programs like this make black people angry but blaming today’s white people, being angry with us, is just dumb. I’d always be embarrassed after watching programs like these, or reading about how white people treat black people, then someone said to me “why are you embarrassed? You had nothing to do with what happened? You are not a hateful, racist/bigoted/intolerant person. You are loving and caring of all people” and that is true. If all black people held onto anger at all white people, we wouldn’t be as far as we are in regards to, and I dislike using this word since it sounds forced, tolerant of one another. There will always be racist/bigoted people, both white AND black, but to blanket all of them is wrong. Stay strong and know there are plenty of white people who embrace differences in people, love people for who they are and treat people like they want to be treated <3

      FYI, ending your post with a mini threat won't move society forward. And ending with "just sayin'" is rude and puts others on the defense. That's not how President Obama wants this country's direction to go, backwards.

      • Regina Tucker

        When you say being angry is dumb, this is offensive to probably the entire race of black Americans. You can’t help but feel angry about what happened in history. First let us get one thing straight, as a human your feelings are always valid. Blacks have a right to feel what they feel because injustice happened and continues to happen to us. Until you experience living in black skin, you will never know what that feels like. Everything that whites base their traditions on comes from their ancestors. It is very annoying to hear whites complain or invalidate our feelings. Our hurt and angry feelings are validated by seeing innocent young and old people hung up in trees and dehumanized worse than animals. What is more upsetting is that this treatment of being devalued as humans still exist. Blacks basically built this country and the rich profited off the sweat of our ancestors. To be upset or angry is not dumb – our feeling are valid and justifiable. If you learn your history to call blacks inferior or dumb is seriously why white America felt blacks were not equal. It is an insult to say someones feelings is dumb. What white America needs to do is recognize those feelings and cease with the ignorant racist ways or costumes. What white America fails to understand is that we do not blame. We put that into the Saviors (God’s) hands. Black America simply wants a fair chance in America to raise our children equally to the way white America raises their children. What white America needs to do is understand and discontinue the non sense of devaluing us, because we deserve to be in America just as much as white America if not more. Going forward white America would be wise to treat black America as equals. Get rid of the Voting Rights ACT for one thing.

        Also, if you feel guilt in your soul, it is there for a reason. It is called repentance. The root of your guilt may come from playing both sides of the fence. When you are around your white friends maybe you become righteous and often take the sides of your racist friends. When you are around your black friends maybe you try to befriend them to make you feel better about yourself. This is hypocrisy. Exactly what this country was founded on. British rejects came to America to escape being mistreated and wanted equality. Yet, these very people who fought for their freedoms from Great Britain felt justified to put another race into slavery and take away their very rights as humans. So if you say you are a good person and you love all people then you should not feel guilt at all. Maybe you need to really do some soul searching and figure out if you play both sides of the fence. If not, then you can start by examining your comments in calling a race dumb for feeling angry about the injustice that was performed for many years and still continues today. There is NOTHING dumb about that at all. Examine what you say before you speak.

        • Sasha

          Applause! Well said! Too many of those who claim they are not racist and in the same breath devalue the atrocious history and current state of affairs of racism against AAs means one thing–there is a racist bone in their body; no matter how much they deny it, it comes out in productions like these, racist incidences as of late, etc. And this is why it is difficult to believe in “good White people.” Those who are TRULY “good” are simply “humans” with a moral balance that is just. When they see wrong done to other humans under the guise of “color”/”race”‘– they call it what it is. That is why they can admit it exist, it is wrong, and shame it with no sense of false guilt, no dismissive excuses that are a backhanded slap that validates racism by trying to justify wrongs against AAs by bringing up other issues such as “black on black” crime which has NOTHING to do with racist White crimes against AAs. When they begin to shame their own, we’ll actually get somewhere. As Albert Einstein stated, racism is “a sickness of white people.” Until they get that and analyze why their innate vice is to be superior to other people, greed to the point of willing to search out people far and wide in order to divide and conquer, alter history and statistics to their benefit, willingness to rob, rape, and kill people, all the while setting up laws to justify their pesudo-godlike supremacy complex, stigmatize others as the culprits and themselves as holy and innocent, and are dismissive to their evil vices while pointing out others to hide theirs, then we’ll finally begin to get somewhere. We (non-White) cannot fix a problem that does not begin with us. Racism is a White issue in America; always has been. We can march and shout all day long, but until White Americans stand up like the abolitionists did back in the day, refusing to participate in any capacity, and shame their own, we will continue to deal with this issue. White Americans who are not racists are just as much a victim to this problem because they are bullied into being silent thus they also become part of the problem. However, instead of admitting this, they create dismissive justifications for racist behavior. They don’t want to put their lives on the line, be seen as an N-Lover or become victims of harassment and abuse; they want a quiet safe life which means avoiding the REAL issue of White racism and focusing on its affects in society (i.e. the angry backlash of the victims who’ve had enough of it). White people need to stand up! Instead of getting on these threads using dismissive tactics by telling AAs what they need to do, how they need to feel, what’s wrong with them in their communities, and how slaves were also sold to Whites, they need to turn that on their own and shame them (in every place high and low) to the point of creating a movement. Until they do that, they are simply trying to cure symptoms of a problem by blaming the victims–instead of attacking the problem itself which is within “them.” That is the ONLY way, we’ll see the cancer of racism go into remission.

        • Kaamilya Jenkins

          Regina, it’s sad but true…why keep blaming the white man and pulling the racist card…True indeed it’s hard to hear of what our ancestors went through in bondage if you want to get mad get mad at the source of the root of how this came about…our own people took our ancestors in and held them captive and enslave them, then came the offer for the trade of slaves and our own seen they could make money and lots..there fore the slave trade begin and carried on for 246 years and today in Africa the family that ran the slave trade remains the riches in Africa today if you want to get upset at the truth here it is..Today as we speak in Africa their housemaids are treated like slaves, they are beaten and degraded and we want the white man to put full trust in the black can’t blame them if the black man is willing to continue degrade their own how much trust should he have for you

          • Regina Tucker

            You know Kaamilya, there is no such thing as a “racist card”. This is a made up phrase created by white people who instead of acknowledging the truth choose to make up a phrase that soothes them from guilt. The only purpose of this phrase is to dismiss the truth. It is what people who are in denial say about something when they have no reason to back up something wrong. Instead of honestly admitting their wrongness or the wrongness of something they use this phrase to avoid the acknowledgement that anything is wrong. Replace “racist card” with “truth”, because honestly that is what it really means. You are playing the truth card. I don’t care how you slice it. Truth is truth and a lie is a lie. Just be honest and save yourself from looking like a fool. Slavery is wrong. The people who practice slavery are wrong. Every country has its own battles to fight. I cannot stand it when a country that knows it has done wrong will not come out and admitted it. Slavery was a big deal. Slavery left a lot of residual effects on society today from conditioning a race of people to think themselves not worthy of being called humans. Conditioning like this does not end of overnight. We are talking 400 years of conditioning a race of people. While many are breaking the cycle, there are others who are still stuck in the cycle. America could do so much better to help break the cycle of injustices that exists, but refuses to even acknowledge it exists. What a nerve to say to people “get a job”, but yet discriminates against the color of skin to African Americans who do try hard to seek a job. White American society practices the finest cynicism in the world and refuses to be accountable for its actions of the past. There could be more laws to help effectively fight against discrimination in America. Wrong is wrong.- I don’t care how you try to justify it. Slavery is inhumane. I can only speak to the effects it had on my family, so my feelings are valid. Slavery is not just “hard to hear” either. It is hard to accept. To accept that it happened to innocent people namely my great great-grandmother and grandfather and family prior to them. We live in a society where some constantly dismiss the truth of what happened and ignore the reality of what difficulties the African American family has and continues to struggle against in America. Africans that enslaved and those who continue to practice slavery,are wrong for doing so, too. Whether it is Africa, America, or wherever slavery is today, this evil cycle needs to be broken. No innocent human has a right over another innocent human. Wherever slavery exists today doesn’t change the fact that it needs to stop. Just because it is happening somewhere else in the world does not dismiss the injustice that is happening in the American system. Nor does it dismiss or invalidate the feelings of the descendants of those whose ancestors were slaves. White America recognizes the so-called “Founding Fathers” of America with pride and honor. But when truth is revealed about the same people, the travesty of what they did gets swept under the carpet. Truth is a hard pill to swallow. Injustice can only be reconciled by ceasing to existis. Admitting the truth is the first step. Finding ways to heal is the next.

          • Cliff Fornwalt

            Regina, “Kaamiliya Jenkins” is a made up pseudonym for a troll that is trying to get you upset. The troll is pretending to be a black person and espousing some really hateful stuff. Don’t fall for it.

            I read your original post, and agree with your overall sentiments and almost all the details. One thing I’m glad you clarified: racism is a disease of white people -in America. Worldwide, some of the worst racist attitudes -far too often resulting in acts of genocide, is by no stretch of the imagination a “white disease.” While racism in America needs our attention, you have to be careful not to take your own experience and generalize it to the world. To only see white racism means you will just overlook some serious atrocities. We need to confront the worse angels of our nature as human beings, and be ready to apply corrective action when things get out of hand. I don’t mean to say that focusing on current worldwide problems absolves anyone in America for the past. It’s not a red herring… I only mean that white America is progressing rapidly and generationally toward better behavior and better hearts due to extensive confrontation within white culture of our demons. Many groups internationally need to begin this process, and we should think about how we can help then apply the lessons learned from the progress we’ve made here. To reduce racism to a “white disease,” is a reductio ad absurdum that dangerously diverts attention from determining and addressing racism’s root causes – tribalism, nationalism, abject poverty, etc.

            To do the most good for the world, we should focus on what we can to to help today. Truth and reconciliation for past transgression is necessary and must continue but please recognize that western culture in general is already quite far along in this process. To contradict that is belittling and counterproductive in the worldwide battle against racism.

      • Madi

        Any reasonable person can acknowledge that modern whites are not responsible for these atrocities, but to pretend as if whites don’t still benefit from the actions of their ancestors(those that owned slaves, were involved in the slave trade, white overseers, “paddy rollers”, etc) is a blatant disregard of history and the principles that this country was founded on…and i’m not talking about the ones in the declaration.

  • Craig Turner

    Absolutely AMAZING!!!!

  • Spencer Chambers

    Who were these historians that say the majority of Africans sold into slavery were sold by Africans? Where is the evidence. Of course there was some African people who participated. But I want to see the evidence that suggest the overwhelming amount of Africans sold were by other African?

    • Cliff Fornwalt

      It’s right to be skeptical. However the piece actually does show interviews with prominent historians. Those people talking on the screen (including Dr. Gates) are not actors. They are historians. This piece is well researched. You can argue about conclusions, but the facts presented are generally well researched and accurate.

    • GUEST #1

      I love that you are skeptical of the blame people like to put on Africans for “slavery”. You are right in a sense that Africans are not responsible for the acts of slavery in America. But Africans did sell slaves as a sort of business transaction, they did not anticipate the treatment and the meaning of slavery in America. They thought slave meant the same thing as it did where they were from and everywhere else eg. egypt. In fact they probably didnt know what the word “slave” would mean and probably saw their acts as something else (like trading workers for some goods) Stop blaming Africans for the harsh acts of slavery in America.

  • Cliff Fornwalt

    Pretty darned good. One criticism: I’d like it to be more clear about who the actual first African in America was, who the first slave in America was, and who the first African slave in America was. If those things are known, I think it would really improve my understanding of how this institution interplayed with the very early development of the European-American civilization. I would have liked to see a little more about how the Spanish and Portuguese imported Africans. I know the Spanish had a rigorous, cruel system of racial apartheid and hierarchy, and it would have been interesting to see how that system developed for African Americans vs. indigenous Americans. I understand that this may not have a strong link to many modern US African Americans, but it certainly bears on the story of Carribean and Latino American people descended from Africans. Dr. Gates only has 6 hours to present it all, so I understand the limitations – I just think it’s a part of the story we NEVER get to hear.

    • Cliff Fornwalt


    • GUEST #1

      stop trying to divert attention lol

  • larry david

    Priscilla’s relatives are so lucky. Our Family sure wishes that we could trace our ancestors from Africa to the United States…. :(

  • Xiu Xiu

    lmao, boring
    NO OFFNESE >.<

    • P. White

      Lol. Who are you? Chinese? Since you are a immigrant, i would not expect you to embrace black culture. If you found it boring, what was you doing watching it? If you cannot spell the word offense correctly, i doubt if you know anything about your own ancestors.

  • lobsterbale .

    Europeans did enslave other europeans during colonialism, mostly low class, southern Italians and Celts from British Isles. They were also enslaved by Africans & Arabs from Barbary coast. How did that black Spanish Moor (a Hebrew word) speak to the Amerindians? Hint is all this is in the scriptures, this topic, the 2 are “lost” brothers. The Africans sold people they called Heebos and “bearded ones” with help from Europeans. Africans were given guns and beer by Europeans. Blacks were first sold from North West Africa, Morocco as Spain was taken back by Europeans, then it move South into Timbuktu West Africa. Blacks then mostly lived in the Sahara because it took months to capture them, people confuse that there were no planes only boats so they had to be brought to the coast. Even then most blacks were Abrahamic but not European style so the Europeans changed all that, good example is mini series “Roots” Kunta Kentay a muslim was made to be Toby. Both Europeans and elite Africans became rich off the slave trade.

    • bystander84

      “Europeans did enslave other europeans during colonialism, mostly low class, southern Italians and Celts from British Isles.”

      I presume by ‘Celts’ you are referring to the Irish? If so it was not at all an exclusively lower class persecution. The Irish classes at ALL levels were denied human rights which was the way to dispossess an entire nation. The Irish upper classes- the Ri, the Gaelic Chieftains, were by force of arms dispossessed of their land ownership rights, parliamentary rights, religious rights, education rights. The Irish upper classes were all driven off their ancient lands and turned into tenants without any legal rights .

      • Cliff Fornwalt

        No, most of Britain and Gaul were populated by Celts, historically. The centuries of European war and invasion leaves only Ireland, Scotland and Wales as extant Celtic populations. In the popular mind of America, Celtic means Irish, but this is inaccurate, abs becomes even moreso add you look further back in history.

  • SistaWoman

    It’s really sad that with all this industry and self-reliance of the Jim Crow era hasn’t been reflected in the masses of African Americans of today. Enslavement of subSaharan blacks was 23 centuries in the making that didn’t start with Europeans. Black bondage started with Thotmose I in 1750 B.C. then in 200 B.C.E. the Arabs “perfected” it which they amassed so much wealth with it’s caliphates of black kingdoms and large ethnic tribes such as the Dahomey, Songhey, Kung, Ashanti, Fulani etc. in western, eastern and central Africa enslaving weaker tribes who wouldn’t be forced to convert to Islam, makes European powers look tame in comparison! These stories featured by Gates only show the pathetic aping of white culture through the Civil Rights Movement which has been the death of the black working class community! There has been no real tangible legacy left to generations of blacks nor to those to come.

    • Cliff Fornwalt

      “There has been no real tangible legacy left to generations of blacks nor to those to come.”



      • SistaWoman

        Yes, seriously…if you disagree, state your case. :-)

      • P. White

        Excuse me, but there IS TANGIBLE EVIDENCE and you have seen it right in your face. The problem is that you have a problem ACCEPTING what is and has been true for three centuries. Since you are white, what you need to do is to take a look at your own ancestors. Perhaps they were part of this slave trade???

        • Cliff Fornwalt

          I was rebutting that comment that you are angry about. Please notice that it is in quotes, and that I bookended it with the words “QUOTE” and “UNUOTE” so nobody who could read would attribute the statement tome. also note that it was quoted from the last line of SistaWoman’s comment immediately above my comment.

          Deleting your mean comment or directing it toward the author would be a classy thing for you to do. it would also make you and your other comments here seem more thoughtful.

          However, after reading your other racist and despicable comments here, I suspect you are a troll (others please check wikipedia for the discussion forum interpretation of the word “troll”). please, everyone, Ignore p.white. he is not genuinely participating in this conversation.

  • Mr.Rupert Davis

    I foremost commend Dr. Gates for the presentation of this, astoundingly, insightful series which chronicles the stages of life of US Blacks, from the horrors of slavery, to that of the Jim Crow era, to the inspiration that is our Commander in Chief in the White House. However, I take issue with the first half of it’s tittle: “The African Americans.” Since this series deal solely and primarily with the history of our black population, shouldn’t the tittle of the documentary be, “The US Blacks: Many Rivers to Cross?”

    The term “African American” is geographically inaccurate, woefully divisive, and highly hypocritical. It is actually stating that we, US Blacks, are a separate group of people apart from other Blacks on this planet, and as such, blatantly suggesting that we are not part of the African Diaspora. US whites, on the other hand, cling unto their color, or lack thereof, as a badge of honor, entitlement, and privilege to the point where the term, “a white woman” is a state of mind. I have never heard of whites referring to themselves as “European Americans,” so then, why the term, “African Americans?” Does this mean that those of us who use said term have issues with our blackness?

    • Cliff Fornwalt

      I do really appreciate your perspective, especially because it reveals how some people perceive me as a white man. I’d like to challenge your perception peacefully and respectfully, though, because I think it suffers from the same kind of reductive generalities that perpetuate the overall racist problem in this country.

      I have no doubt that there are many white people who feel entitled simply because of their race. But I and many others certainly do not feel that way. In fact, I believe (as did President Kennedy) that we still carry inherited culpability for the wrongs of the past, and have an obligation to take Affirmative Action to at least partially right those wrongs. Please remember that there is a long tradition of white people in this country SUPPORTING the freedoms and rights of black people – before, during, and after the Civil War.

      Slavery and anti-black racism are terrible evils that have victimized an entire people – but they are not perpetrated BY an entire people. That belief is historically inaccurate, and does nothing to heal our collective wounds. Many of us recognize slavery and racism as crimes against humanity and feel the emotional wounds quite deeply, I assure you.

      I won’t comment on your discussion of self-identity, except to say that it is very interesting, and I wish other Black Americans would comment on whether they agree with you.

      My apologies if any of my use of terminology seemed inappropriate. It was not meant to be offensive. By current US Norms, if I (being white) were to use exactly the terms you use (i.e. “US Blacks”), I think many people would be offended. I recognize that your assertion is that they should not be, though.

      • GUEST #1

        well put

  • Manuel Palacio

    Amazing documentary, but misleading; glorifying blacks Afro-Americas as victims. European States move away from indentured workers, because they fought for their rights and got some on their way to a republic. African states did not. So it was easy to get human beings who had no rights to slave. It was not because of their color. Color became an easy way to justify slavery, when the US claim all Man are equal. To keep their striving economy, the new United States had to justify slavery. Declaring color to be an excuse for a lesser human being.

    • Cliff Fornwalt

      I don’t think there is any way to realistically interpret the history of slavery in the Americas as anything but the victimization of an entire people. American slavery was fundamentally different from serfdom or indentured servitude for a number of reasons… most significantly: 1) heriditary nature. 2) rigid association with race 3) the absolute lack of any legal rights or humanity.

      Having said that, to your point of comparing Europen and American servitude: Serfs in Europe were actually freed AFTER the American Civil War, so it isn’t accurate to say that Europeans ended indentured labor on their own while Africans did not.

    • P. White

      Excuse me sir, but there is no glorifying as u put it. Blacks are the only race of people in the entire history of america that did not ask to come to america. Spanish people were not slaves in this country. Only black people were. And from what i understand, slaves were brought to points in spanish countries to be bought, sold, and traded before shipped to southern states in america. It was because of skin color. America was built on slavery. My advice to you sir, is to watch Roots, Mandingo, Drum, Topango, Slave Ship, and gets your facts straight,

      • Cliff Fornwalt

        you are factually incorrect on most points, but your sentiment is valid. There are a number of grpups of people that were forced to come to the US. The Hmong come first to my mind. Native Americans were forcibly relocated and suffered a genocide at the hands of 19th century Americans. There is no point in trying to establish whose plight was or is the worst.

        Regarding Latin American slavery: Even in this documentary the huge global slave trade was discussed… including Haiti, Brazil, and other carribean and South American countries that were huge end destinations for slaves, and where some accounts suggest the brutality exceeded the norm in north America. Read about the long-lasting extensive caste-like system that the Spanish enforced in Spanish America, and its ongoing legacy of oppression.

        Rather than relying on fictional films for learning, as you suggest, people should try reading. even Wikipedia has a lot about the extent and brutality of slavery, as well as it’s legacy. I recommended it for starters because it is free and written in a way that is accessible to people of average intelligence.

    • Nica La

      You’re only partially correct. Go research the history of Angola a country in West Africa where the queen before her death she single handedly kept the invading Portuguese and Spanish Army at bay from conquering her country and forcing her people into slavery. Africans did fight and there are many other stories like this.

      • Manuel Palacio

        Hello Nica,
        Your are correct. However the nature of all kingdoms are the same. It’s the royalty controlling the serfs; like modern day dictators. And with all kingdoms, it’s a constant contest for more power or be conquered. I’m sure many queens did fight. They capture other surfs and sold or exchange them to strengthen their own kingdom. And that’s the story of slavery and now race, the quest for power at the expense of the poor. In the case of the USA , blacks was easier to get because they did not have political rights. The queen of Angola did not demand her subject return and she did not form alliance with other kingdom to keep out the Portuguese. Many Europeans got rid of their kings ( revolution ) and eventually replace them with a Goverment of the people who demanded rights. In the USA politicians who what power enacted Jim-crow laws to take away the rights of other for their financial benefits. And they did it by creating a distinction and fabrication called race.

  • bystander84

    The British slave trade began before the time stated in the documentary. It was not a ‘catch up’ affair that the Brits came late to in the 1600s as stated. English slave trading started in 1562 when Captain John Hawkins captured 300 Africans in west Africa and brought them to the English Caribbean colony and sold the Africans into slavery. The British were fighting the Spanish over establishing colonies in the Caribbean and slavery was a vital part in building the settlement.

    Great series anyway. Full of interesting information and personal stories. I am really enjoying it even though parts are downright hard to watch. Sad. Tragic.

  • Judah Sister

    9:50 – 14:14 Show the disdain Africans have towards so called African Americans. Why isn’t this program going into the ethnic differences between the people? These “historians” never come out and completely tell you what determined who got sold into slavery and who didn’t. So called African Americans are the real Israelites of the bible. The bible prophesied that our ancestors would go into slavery on slave ships in Deuteronomy 28:68KJV. Deuteronomy Chapter 28KJV explains the Atlantic slave trade. Africans didn’t sell Africans into slavery Africans sold Israelites into slavery. Africans were always angry with us that we are God’s chosen people and they’re not. They seem to understand there is a difference between us and them but for some reason our people (so called African Americans) can’t see that. Wake up people

    • wildstyle

      There’s a brotha I have discussion quite often about this very subject. The flaw in your doctrine besides absurdity is with such well documented history and remnants of our culture wouldnt there be a significant amount of hebrew culture in west africa or the americas. Simple geography and dna debunks your claim. Lastly you use a few bible scriptures as a pretext to further an untruth, a practice common to false religion and false teachers.

      • Judah Sister

        Joel 3:3-8KJV 3:And they have cast lots for my people; (Israel God’s chosen) and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink (little girls were sold for barrels of wine and boys were made to breed with other slaves). 4:Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine?(What do you have to do with me Africans and Arabs) will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; (The Most High is going to repay them for selling our ancestors into slavery) 5:Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: (Our precious goods were stolen from our ancestors) 6:The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. (Africans and Arabs sold Israelites into slavery to white people and our ancestors were scattered about the earth) 7:Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: (Here mainly concentrated in the Americas and scattered throughout the 4 corners of the earth including a remnant in West Africa) 8:And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it. ( Verse 8 is future prophecy these nations as you see here in this video that sold us into slavery will go into slavery according to the scriptuers) The bible says let God be true and every man a liar. Your response said nothing about the ethnic differences between the people in west Africa. The bible gives you a clear answer on who we are and who sold our ancestors Israelites into slavery to white people. Again Africans sold Israelties into slavery. People need to stop parading that lie around that we sold our own people into slavery. Africans sold Israelties into slavery like the bible says. I don’t have to go run and get a DNA test from the same people who took my history away from me to go pay for them to sell it back to me. The bible tells you who you are. Who gives these people to right to our personal records in the first place? And what makes you think they are going to tell you the truth about who you are in the first place? They are not going to tell you that you are God’s chosen people. You keep running with geography and DNA and see where that gets you. Shalom.

        • wildstyle

          Dear Sister. If you read the bible you site you would see the verse you copy has nothing to do with what you say it means. It even says in verse 6 that the slaves were sold to the greeks. I am certain you dont understand the bible and using “the hidden scroll” or some other book or youtube video only referencing cherry picked passages. The video did answer who was sold, warring tribes. Doctrinal flaw number 2. How did the Europeans seperate perfectly each tribe and place them in each region in the americas. Doctrinal flaw 3 wasnt this knowledge hidden…and each tribe comes after an actual person, they were brothers how is it africans looks so different from native americans? Shouldn’t we have similar traits? BHI distorts the bible and Jesus, all to promote racial supremacy. It is a poor excuse for black men to mistreat women and assert dominance. I pray you repent. I pray you will get out of that cult. I pray you will find a real bible teaching church and learn the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. I wish you well.

  • CCherry2

    Re African slavery (from about 9:00 to 14:00 of Episode 1): I spoke personally to one of the leading experts on West African slavery who complained that Gates makes a false equivalency between African slavery (indentured servitude with a caste/class system) as compared with American chattel slavery, which treated human beings as subhuman property.

    She said that African ‘slaves’ had human, legal and property rights and could be adopted by and even married into their ‘master’s’ family, own property, etc., but were limited as to social upward mobility and political leadership. They where considered to be ‘lower class’ vs. the group that conquered them.

    Also, she said that African chiefs had no idea of what life would be like for the ‘weaker’ ethnic groups they conquered then sold to Europeans-after all, once Africans left through “doors of no return” from forts all around Africa’s West Coast, no one came back from the ‘New World’ to tell them about their experiences. She believes that these chiefs assumed that American slavery was as ‘humane’ as African slavery was.

    This expert, a university professor who Gates previously interviewed, told me she called Gates out on this, but he cut off contact. She believes he had to shade the truth and make the Africans more culpable than they really were.

    After seeing this episode, I see her point. I agree wholeheartedly that he provided no historical context for the context of “slavery” and what it mean in West African vs. Egyptian vs. American/European history, in an attempt to place equal ‘blame’ on African chiefs & military leaders and European/American slaveowners. After all, “slavery dated back to the most ancient civilizations,” he says. Yes…and no.

    Another interesting thing. African leadership, especially chiefs in West African countries, have acknowledged their ancestors’ culpability in the slave trade and have unconditionally asked forgiveness for it on their behalfs. When has American political leadership, or even American’s nominally ‘Christian’ leaders, ever asked forgiveness on behalf of their slave-holding ancestors? That’s how healing begins; not with mealy-mouthed statements of ‘regret’ that Bill Clinton made when he visited Goree Island’s “Door of No Return” in Senegal.

    Dr. Gates, if you monitor this, you can contact me and I’ll give you the contact info of your academic colleague in West Africa. You would know the name. You should clarify this episode-it’s an easy fix-and make amends to your colleague, first by returning her calls…

    • GUEST #1

      thank you soo much for this. slaves did not come from Africa they were made in America. Lower class workers were traded in West Africa

  • carterfan

    What I found very disturbing was the shackles,headgear, etc. that their new white slave traders used at their slave ports and on the ships to the (their) new world. Their instant transformation from a slave in servitude with some rights to the status of a sub-human creature subject to the cruelest treatment imaginable was sickening

  • yahmie00

    The more I learn about my people, the more proud I am to be a descendant of these people; seriously strong. I know God will or has punished the wicked & evil Africans & Europeans that was responsible for the inhumane acts of Slavery, Jim Crow & the Civil Rights era.

  • Marshall McFarlin

    Well first of all we know that everything they said was a lie the blacks were always here in the Americas as early as 50,000 years ago Pre Mongolian and Columbian. Every major figure in the Bible, Talmud, Torrah, Tannuc, Quran and other holy books are black. What they really need tp answer is are the So called Afro Americans the True Hebrew Israelites as Deuteronomy 28:15-68 proves WHO the real Hebrews actually are.

  • Troye Phillips Fennell

    I am deeply moved by the story told here. I widens my understanding of how this country was built. I understand better that it was man’s inhumanity to man that built this country. I am not ashamed of my history. It is a powerful story of strengthd endurance an

  • Truth

    You negroes were sold not only by black Africans but there were also white africans living in Northern Africa and arabs that were collaborating to sell you into bondage as bonds men and bonds women. You were taken into Egypt again which, pre 1937 meant “a system of slavery” not just a name of a country. And the lord said, “NO MAN SHALL BUY YOU.” Buy in the old English means save. Whether how free you feel you are, you still live under the foot of those who took you. Whether it be in the ghettos or living off of some sort of government assistance programs. No different then the Native Americans, aboriginal peoples of Australia, Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, Jamaican’s, Haitian’s, Cubans, Dominicans. All these people did not cross the land 50 millions years ago during the ice age. Read your bible. Have patience. These are the peoples who still live together in a tribal state. Only difference is the black negroes here in America were told that they will be sold and brought to a foreign land of their enemy and will forget who they were, where they came from (not just the continent). This is because you are gods chosen people. The tribe of Judah, which today is modern day Ghana also known as widah and Judah. That’s where you get the word Jew from, the people today are Jew-ish meaning to act like a jew. There own encyclopedia says they are not the jews from the torah. Hope you dig deep and read. We have succumb to believing everything we see and hear on tv, news papers, and social media. This shows you still live under that father of lies. God bless.

  • Madi

    It’s true that many whites simply could not afford to own slaves, but let’s not pretend as if poor whites didn’t help perpetuate the institution of slavery. They were generally the ones that acted as “paddy rollers”, for example. They had a stake in keeping blacks in chains as well. Also, just as an FYI, repeating the popular idea that it was Africans who sold other Africans into slavery does not absolve whites of ANYTHING. There were many whites that went and caught the Africans themselves. Furthermore, many Africans were strong-armed into participating in the slave trade. The particular type of slavery that existed in the US was indeed unique. But, by the logic of people like you, someone else is probably to blame for what the Africans endured during the Transatlantic journey and on the plantations, right?

  • SistaWoman

    Insults don’t make you smart just obtuse and insufferably myopic! That being said, Hitler didn’t kill 6 million Jews. Read David Irvings book Destruction of Dresden and as for American Chattel Slavery read Ivan Van Sertima’s book Islam. The only bizarre and loose assertions comes from your lack of in depth study on these subjects? So as many trolls do you can go back under your rock and pontificate the glories and achievements of the abysmal failure of the Civil Rights Movement. Look at the re-segregation of the public school system of the South, especially in Alabama, lol! Brown vs. Board of Education is being dismantled in plain sight, lol!

  • Helen C Tendle

    we as descendents should be rewarded as like as well as the American Indian for there too is our Descendent. of AMERICAS.

  • lovefaces

    Can I hear just one white person, just say I understand how you must feel! This was terrible and I’m angry and I hate every white person who committed these crimes against Humans. It’s like looking at the devil!

  • Regina Tucker

    I hear so much comparison and justification about what other countries have done in regards to slavery. Slavery is wrong and the people who practiced it were wrong. Those who practice it now are wrong. Injustice, inequality, discrimination – all wrong. This is the truth and everything else is irrelevant.

  • Ismail Saleem

    America also used a lot of “Indentured Servants” even before slavery…I would like to mention the serfs of Europe…the Chinese…the Indians both native and foreign…almost all races were used in the building of this America…so not only Afro-Americans were enslaved; although, argument maybe put forward that they were treated the worse…putting it in perspective slavery was an economic institution…practiced all over the world….even today…

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