African-American history has played an integral role in the shaping of politics, economics, and culture in the United States. Growing up, how did you learn about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans? Were you in a classroom? Reading a book? Talking with relatives or friends? How has your understanding or knowledge of African-American history changed and/or developed over time? What do you think is the most effective way to pass along this rich and growing history to future generations?

Bruno Nealon Raskin

Dear Henry Louis Gates Jr.,

I really enjoyed your documentary. It covered SO much time (509 years), it had lots of facts stuffed into it, it went back and forth from the good and the bad, which made it balanced, and most of all it was very entertaining. I learned a lot about the history of African-Americans and the troubles they faced. It gave me the feeling of having such a hard time.

Some of the parts that REALLY stood out to me were the election of Barack Obama, the black community being burned down, Bloody Sunday and The Birth of a Nation. The election stood out because it seemed like it would end all happy because a black man had been elected president! Woo-hoo! But then the show said that even though Obama was elected, there is still racism in America. Then the question “will racism ever end” was brought up. It left me thinking.
The part where the black community was burned down stood out to me because of all the details you included. It was surprising because it was very unfair. White people burned down a black sanctuary just because Dick Rowland MAYBE touched a white girls butt. He probably did not even do it, and if he did, that is a TOTALLY CRAZY payback!
Bloody Sunday stood out because of all the footage you included at the time. It let me see how bad it was. It seemed like it showed almost everything in the entire protest. That made me feel like I was a bystander at Bloody Sunday. You managed to show all the bad things and make me feel really sorry for them without to much violence or gore like the fiction movie Selma.
Lastly, A Birth of a Nation stood out because it showed the fact that the whites tried to make the blacks sound like the criminals. It portrayed the blacks as sexual predators. But the other moviemakers like Oscar Micheaux tried to show that blacks were NOT the bad guys in their films, like Within Our Gates. It was a revolution on the screen.

Overall, I thought Many Rivers To Cross was amazing and powerful. You captured the feeling of what it was like to be African-American throughout all these years. Thanks for making such a great documentary. By the way, if you are on the hunt for other topics, one on the history of games (NOT video games) would be interesting.

Bruno Nealon Raskin