Worthy PBS Specials on history, race

Though I have been sick at home both today and yesterday, I tried my best to get to the council meeting last night during a brief period of feeling better. After under a half hour, though, my symptoms came right back and I left. It seems, according to Bernice’s posts, that I missed a real spectacle. It turns out that I had no chance of watching the whole meeting, which didn’t end until nearly midnight.

In missing yesterday’s council meeting due to sickness, I was lucky enough to catch African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross on PBS and hosted by Henry Louis Gates. It was the fourth episode of six episode series that chronicles African-American life from 1500 until 2013, this episode focusing on 1897-1940. For now, you can watch this most recent episode in its entirety here. I do find it somewhat ridiculous to try to chronicle such a large and tumultuous time into one hour. I also think that there were a lot of voices, particularly very significant leftist voices and ideas (surprise, surprise) that were totally left out of this hour. Criticism of the scope and length aside, I did learn a few things, and PBS always uses quality footage, interviews, etc. Also, with people watching nearly-offensive specials like Black in America and Latino in America on CNN, we can do a lot worse than this. I am anxious, and prepared to be disappointed, to see how the next two eras are handled in this PBS special series, which airs Tuesdays at 8pm.

It you want to see a very good PBS documentary also hosted by Henry Louis Gates, please check out Haiti & The Dominican Republic: An Island Divided, one of my favorites. It’s available online here. You are sure to learn something about the Island of Hispaniola as it relates to identity and the complex history between two nations.

And what do you know! At that last link, beneath that video I see several more hour-long documentaries  about racial identity available. I hope that they are as quality as An Island Divided. They are:

Mexico & Peru: A Hidden Race? – the almost unknown history of their significant black populations – link

Brazil: A Racial Paradise? – Professor Gates explores the “rainbow nation” of Brazil – link

Cube: The Next Revolution – how the culture, religion, and politics are inextricably linked to race – link

I’ll be watching. If you like historical documentaries like these, you’re sure to like the book 1493, which I wrote about a few days ago.

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