Struggle and resistance are hallmarks of the African American experience, but they are not the only story. Beyond the reach of the “White gaze,” Black people worked and played, laughed and loved, hoped and dreamed, started families, built schools and businesses, formed communities, and created vast social networks that, borrowing from the motto of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, lifted as they climbed. In this new four-hour documentary series, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes us “behind the Veil” of racial segregation in Jim Crow America to tell their story.
Making Black America draws viewers into an extraordinary world that showcased Black people’s ability to collectively prosper, defy white supremacy and define Blackness in ways that transformed America itself.
As Black people fought for full citizenship, hour one explores how free African Americans exercised their self - determination by building communities, establishing schools, and creating associations that would become the foundational pillars of Black America. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the organizations, networks and artistic impression created by and for Black people.
As Jim Crow laws went into effect, African Americans built a “life behind the veil” to meet their educational, economic, political, and cultural needs. Hour two explores the genesis of these organizations and networks that paved the way for Black life to flourish. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. highlights the progress Black people made during the early 20thCentury.
Hour three shows how the Great Depression devastated America’s economy and brought Black America to its knees. To survive, the Black community used social networks to navigate the oppressive realities of Jim Crow. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores how social networks formed the cultural, economic and political foundation of the Civil Rights Movement which would transform America’s race relations.
Despite the gains of legal desegregation, hour four reveals a fervent desire for Black spaces and institutions that provide a safe place to debate, organize and celebrate. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores how Black cultural and political movements — from Black Power to Black Twitter — embraced a radical consciousness that championed a new generation.