Wednesday, February 11, 2009

African American Lives on PBS

I just watched a show on PBS tonight that was a really good, genealogy-related program called "African American Lives". I think it was part two in a series of two but I missed the first fifteen minutes so I am not sure. The host is a man named Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - a historian but I am not terribly familiar with him or his work. It was nice, well-produced show that traced the ancestry of various black celebrities. I saw segments on Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, Chris Rock and a few others. The Morgan Freeman part was quite moving.

I do not want to give too much away but the part with Don Cheadle was pretty...I do not want to say funny but it was surely ironic. He was told that his ancestors were slaves even after the Civil War...they were owned by Chickasaw Indians, not white Southerners. Emancipation did not apply to them and they remained slaves for several extra years since the Chickasaw were not American citizens and therefore not bound by the same laws. He was shocked that the only other group with the messed-up treatment of African-Americans in this country were the Native Americans and even they were screwing his people over! Talk about irony! I never knew that Indians owned slaves out west so that was a great learning experience for me too.

You should try to catch the show if it comes back on. I am going to provide some links to the shows' web site and a You Tube video preview that you can watch. If you get to see the whole show one day, let me know what you thought.

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