'The African Americans': Henry Louis Gates Tells the Tragic Story of Slavery

"Can something as tragic and immoral as slavery become, if not less tragic, then noble, even righteous, in the telling?" asks the Washington Examiner's Cal Thomas. It can, and it does in the hands of The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., he writes.

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Screenshot of Henry Louis Gates Jr. in PBS' The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

At the Washington Examiner, columnist Cal Thomas asks, "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 hands of The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., in the upcoming PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, he says.

His brilliant and compelling new six-part series for PBS, "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross," premieres Oct. 22 (check local listings).

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, Gates re-tells it in a way that will sound new to many people, especially the young. What I admire most about 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, Gates says, based their prejudices on "ethnic differences" while using "brute power."

In episode one, Gates takes us to Sierra Leone, where "300,000 Africans were taken." It was only the beginning.

Read Cal Thomas' entire piece at the Washington Examiner.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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