As a precocious black boy coming of age in Brooklyn, NY I sat in social studies class learning about the magnificent new world exploits of Europeans, the peaceful and earthy Native Americans, and the archetype black personalities to emulate, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and if my teacher was feeling radical that day, Malcolm X. My dearth of Black history (African American and African) knowledge cultivated a feeling blacks did nothing to shape their societies. My black history universe constituted specks of moon dust, unbeknownst to me this universe was a chaotic soul-wrenching maelstrom of events where incandescent luminaries with magnetic personas were more indomitable than gravity. Being black is an element commingled in the vastness of that universe, everyday I lived, this universe acted on me and I birthed its spirit in the pregnant awkwardness of being black in America.
In The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a groundbreaking new six-part series noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. recounts the full trajectory of African-American history premiering Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 8-9 p.m. ET on PBS (there are replays throughout the week) and airing six consecutive Tuesdays through November 26, 2013. The series explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds. Professor Gates believes, “The story of the African-American people is the story of the settlement and growth of America itself, a universal tale that all people should experience.”