Two-part series examines 50 years of African-American history |

Two-part series examines 50 years of African-American history

Submitted by KUED

Almost every schoolchild today learns about the civil rights movement – about how our nation moved itself forward, against the will of many, out of a shameful past.
Yet what has happened since?

In “Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise," Henry Louis Gates, Jr. looks at the last 50 years of African-American history.

The two-part series, airing over two Tuesdays: November 15 and 22, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., steps out of the sanctified past and into the complex, raw, complex present.

The series charts the remarkable progress black people have made, and raises hard questions about the obstacles that remain. The series begins at the point where the story we Americans tell about ourselves becomes complicated.

Today, Barack Obama sits in the White House and African Americans wield influence in every domain, from business to academia to the arts. At the same time, black people are incarcerated at six times the rate of whites and face financial inequality, while whites now have 13 times the wealth of blacks.

Many of our schools and neighborhoods are more segregated than they were in 1965, and police killings of unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and Baton Rouge recur with tragic frequency — inspiring radically different responses within black and white communities. How did we end up here, when half a century ago racial equality seemed imminent — even inevitable?

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To find out, Gates offers a fresh examination of key events and turning points in American race relations and black history over the last five decades, animated by viewpoints that have rarely been heard on television, ideas that are not often said out loud and questions that many are afraid to ask.

  • Has the promise of the civil rights movement truly been realized?
  • What obstacles have stood in the way of full racial equality?
  • How did African Americans themselves contribute to this trajectory?
  • Do attempts to level the playing field for black people automatically come at the expense of white people?
  • As we turn from the past to the present moment, have we, as a country, moved on from the ideas about race that once defined us? And if so, why does race still have the power to divide?By examining the changes to black America wrought by cultural and political forces, new questions of identity, new modes of communication, a globalizing economy and mass incarceration, Gates asks what the black community has accomplished since 1965, and what it means to be "black" today.These profound questions evoke both the immense progress that has been made and the great challenges that lie ahead.

    "We are at a critical moment in the black experience in America," says Gates. "Over the past 50 years, following the remarkable strides made during the civil rights movement of Dr. King, African Americans have achieved a level of cultural, political, and economic influence that those early civil rights leaders could hardly have dreamed of.

    "At the same time poverty remains a stubbornly persistent way of life for far too many African Americans, incarceration rates in our communities are at an al-time high, and people are crying out to have their basic human dignity recognized, leading some to wonder if things have changed."

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