For those interested in Historical Documentaries and Black American Heritage in America, February is 'Black History Month', and PBS will be airing programs dedicated to this topic.
One of particular interest is entitled "Slavery and the Making of America".
The main reason I'm posting this is because of the many misunderstandings and questions on this board concerning the role and mentality of 'People of Color' in America. Here is an excellent opportunity to understand just a little bit about why it is many here speak so adamantly about freedoms and rights. Hopefully, too, your questions may be answered in this reenactment piece.
For many here who may have had questions as to what roles African Americans played in the founding and contributions to America, this is an opportunity to discover documented accounts of what really occurred during the first days of slavery.
You really should find time to check it out. Peace.
Slavery and the building of America
PBS film explores role of slaves, enslavement on shaping of U.S.
Three of the first 11 enslaved Africans arrive in Dutch New Amsterdam in
1626 for purchase by the Dutch West India Company, as shown in a
reenactment from PBS' "Slavery and the Making of America," part of
the network's observation of Black History Month.
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:42 p.m. ET Feb. 3, 2005
LOS ANGELES -
The names Colonel Tye, Robert Smalls and Harriet Jacobs aren’t as familiar as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Betsy Ross, but they, too, are the forefathers and foremothers of America.
They also were slaves.
So were Denmark Vesey, Mum Bett, Emmanuel and Frances Driggus, and millions of other black pioneers instrumental in building a barely charted territory into one of the strongest and richest countries in the world.
Yet their stories have been largely ignored in U.S. history.
“The reason we don’t know what we ought to know about them isn’t because these people haven’t been telling their stories,” says George Washington University historian James Horton.
He’s among 25 scholars who provide an unparalleled look at slavery and the remarkable stories of individual slaves in “Slavery and the Making of America,” airing on PBS Feb. 9 and 16 at 9 p.m. EST.
“The diaries, the novels, the letters that we are finding now have been there for a couple hundred years. How come we didn’t find them before?” Horton questions. “Part of the reason has to do with what we thought worthy of looking for.”
Visual history of American slavery
Narrated by actor Morgan Freeman, the unique, four-hour series is told through a collage of filmed re-enactments, providing a detailed visual history of American slavery.
From the early 17th century when English settlers in Virginia purchased Africans from Dutch traders, and through the next two centuries with the Civil War and Reconstruction, the documentary explores slavery as more than just an institution of evil and persecution.
Rather, the film shows how slavery became the central economic base for the entire country’s development — a base that was dependent on the labor and know-how of generations of black Americans.
“This is not African American history, it’s American history. It’s the history of all of us,” notes executive producer William R. Grant, director of science, natural history and feature programs for WNET in New York, which produced the series.
And while the documentary ends in late 1876, Grant contends that the story of slavery is extremely relevant today.
“President Bush said recently that Americans do not like to look in the rearview mirror, that we are a forward-looking — not backward-looking — people,” Grant says of the president’s inaugural address.
'The main event in American history'
“However, as Peter Wood, one of the historians from Duke University, said in the show, ‘Slavery is ground zero for race relations in America.’ If you don’t understand that, it’s hard to get a grip on what’s going on today. Or as Jim Horton said, ‘Slavery wasn’t the sideshow in America, it was the main event in American history.”’
Grant and his team of historians and production people spent two painstaking years piecing together the documentary — defining the thematic elements for each hour and finding the stories to support them based on newly uncovered historical data.
The project also “brought out an enormous amount of emotion,” Grant said in a telephone interview.
“The actors who played people like Harriet Jacobs found it extremely emotional,” he explained. “All of us on the production team found an emotional connection with our past, whether we were white or black. And, secondly, it’s just such a huge, huge story.”
So enormous that Horton along with his wife, historian Lois E. Horton, penned the companion book featuring additional details and narrative stories.
“I hope people can look at this project in a holistic context and keep going back to it,” said series producer Dante J. James.
“African Americans have the right and, armed with the necessary knowledge, can take pride in the way that enslaved people maintained, as best they could, their families, their spirituality, developed a new culture, brought new technology to this country and were an essential element in this nation becoming the economic and culture power that it is today.”
© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.