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?

Eve Rose Neumann

Dear Henry Louis Gates jr,
I felt as if I was there. As if I was a slave, as if I had never gotten treated with respect, and as if I had listened to Martin Luther King speak.
When things started to get better, I was also there. Soul Train, Black is beautiful, Black Power! Racism was ending, and it was amazing. I was there, laughing at the good times, crying at the bad.
I felt as if I was in the movie, the whole 500 years of the good, the bad, the right, the wrong. It changed my perspective of segregation forever.
‘Many Rivers to Cross’ showed me what life used to be. I used to think segregation was just “oh, they aren’t nice, so I can’t share my ice cream.” But my old perspective wasn’t even close. There were amazing leaders, choices for the worst and for the better, and worst of all, so many deaths. Life was not happyville.
My thoughts went deep as I listened to the lives of so many different people. What if I was that person? Would I stand up? Or would I keep with the life I had? The life of being pushed to work, day after day, night after night. After I finished one job, I had to go directly to another one.
Isn’t it amazing? The people who knew that life could not be like this forever. The people who stood up for what needed to be done. It’s not a bad idea. People might have been risking their lives, but they continued. They wanted to make a change. They needed to make a change. They were willing to lose EVERYTHING to help save society. People would even kill themselves to not have to go back to the life they hated.
Every African American was brave, just living through these incredibly hard times. They were put to work, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children. The babies that they had would have to grow up living the poor life of a slave. The pain that every child and adult and teenager would have to go through. “I am born a slave. I have lived like that my whole life”.
Change is important. Change is what needed to be done.
Some people haven’t changed, even though it’s all over now. Some people just can’t be changed. There will probably always be a few people who are racist, but it will be a small fly on top of millions of giants. We are a part of, not a part from.
Everybody should get treated fairly, even though we are different in our own special ways. Someone could have a million freckles, and someone else could have none. It doesn’t mean that the person with no freckles should get called bad names or get treated worse than the person with a million freckles. Or the fact that people with blond hair are dumb. That statement is just someone who doesn’t like people with blond hair. Or someone who’s jealous. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean that they are bad.
“Do you think America was ready for a black president?” “Doesn’t matter, it happened.” Barack Obama was a truly amazing man. Once he won the election, people began to think “Could 500 years of racism be erased by the election of 1 man?” “Was this the end of racism?” What would’ve happened if Obama DIDN’T win? Would the life of racism still exist? Or would it be like the life of today? Maybe it would be in the middle. There is this sudden feeling when for years, you have been through all this misery and pain, and finally, there is happiness. There is FREEDOM.
Eve Rose Neumann
P.S. I loved your movie!!!