Henry Louis Gates PBS series "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross" - baltimoresun.com: Can something as tragic and immoral as slavery become, if not less tragic, then noble, even righteous, in the telling? It can and it does in the capable hands of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., whose brilliant and compelling new six-part series for PBS called "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross" premieres Oct. 22.
Mr. Gates, whose previous series, "African American Lives," chronicled the heritage of some famous and notable African Americans, takes us on a new journey that begins 500 years ago. While some of the history is familiar, Mr. Gates re-tells it in a way that will sound new to many people, especially the young. What I admire most about Mr. Gates' approach in this series and the previous one is that he is not a polemicist. He doesn't dwell on blame so much as he conveys documented history, leaving it to viewers to draw their own conclusions.
What many will find shocking is that the first slave traders were Africans who, Mr. Gates says, based their prejudices on "ethnic differences" while using "brute power." In episode one, Mr. Gates takes us to Sierra Leone where "300,000 Africans were taken." It was only the beginning.