On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Examiner.com was invited to the premiere screening of "The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross" with Henry Louis Gates, Jr taking place at The Paris Theatre. These new series which will be premiering on PBS next Tuesday, Oct. 22 and will be airing for six consecutive Tuesdays are Henry Louis Gates, Jr latest contribution of what has proven to be a long and distinguished public television career.
This charismatic host whom among other achievements was listed in Time magazine as one of the 25 most Influential Americans in its 1997 edition and who in the year 2002 was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities for the Jefferson Lecture takes us in a voyage through time enlightening us about both past and recent African American history.
In his opening speech Henry Louis Gates, Jr spoke with charm about the year 1968 when as a high school senior he saw Bill Cosby narrating a documentary about black history on television which fundamentally sparked what today we experience condensed in this present project. The truth unveiled in this film (Black History: Lost Stolen, or Strayed, 1968) ignited or rather confirmed Gates passion for a history that although existent had never been properly examined or properly treated remaining unjustly in the shade. This original six part series sponsored among others by the Ford foundation, Abby and Howard Milstein and Bank of America is not only designed as a TV event but also conceived in its own way and in the words of Mr. Gates as an effort to contribute to the education of the African American history.
Have we truthfully approached a debate about race? asks Gates. Then why do we have to continuously experience racists incidents? This is why an epic documentary such as The African American: Many Rivers To Cross is so fundamental even at school levels. To understand history is fundamentally to understand ourselves.
Those who attended the event were fortunate to experience a sneak peak from Episode One: The Black Atlantic (1500 - 1800) commencing in the Atlantic ocean with the story of Juan Garrido one of the first Africans to set foot on America who had embarked in a Spanish expedition and later pursued his search for gold in California, Episode Four: Making a Way out of No Way (1897 - 1940) which narrates among other things the Jim Crow era and Episode Six: A More Perfect Union (1968 - 2013) from the civil rights movement to the historic election of Barack Obama. As the lights went on and the applause began to rise we knew within our hearts that we were hungry and prepared for more.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross the creation of the outstanding educator and academic Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a chronicle that spans five hundred years of African American history from slavery to the election of President Barack Obama consciously defining its contours. These moving and powerful documentary serie's not only seek to rediscover but also in its quest to nurture its audience looks to preserve a rich and foundational part of the American story.
After the screening guests like Jodi Applegate, Georgette Bennett, Harry Carson, Ron Claiborne, Joanna Coles, Ruby Dee, Delaina Dixon, Tony Guida, Dan Hedaya, Glenn and Deborah Hutchins, Nikki M James, Beverly Johnson, Harry Jones, Howard & Abby Milstein, Lawrence O’Donnell, Irina Pantaeva, Gloria Reuben, Nina Rosenblum, Neal Shapiro, Terrence Stevens, Eric West, Celia Weston, Candice Williams headed to TAO for a fabulous after-party.
Gaston Yvorra contributed reporting.