Part of Upcoming PBS Episode on African American History Filmed in Manuscripts and Archives

A film crew recently spent time in the Manuscripts and Archives Reading Room in Sterling Memorial Library where they filmed a portion of the sixth episode of the six-part PBS series, The African Americans, Many Rivers to Cross. The series spans five centuries of history and is narrated by Harvard scholar, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
As part of final episode, A More Perfect Union (1968-2103), a crew from Ark Media used the Manuscripts and Archives reading room as a backdrop for filming an extensive interview between Professor Gates (’73 B.A.) and Kurt Schmoke (’71 B.A.) about the latter’s participation in the campus and local events leading up to the 1970 May Day Rally in New Haven, and the impact those events had on Schmoke’s subsequent career. They spent time on camera reminiscing over Manuscripts and Archives collection materials documenting the May Day Rally era. To read more about the filming experience and to see some pictures taken during the time, view the Manuscripts and Archives blog at:

In the final episode, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discusses how, after 1968, African Americans set out to build a bright new future on the foundation of the civil rights movement’s victories, but a growing class disparity threatened to split the black community in two. As hundreds of African Americans won political office across the country and the black middle class made unprecedented progress, larger economic and political forces isolated the black urban poor in the inner cities, vulnerable to new social ills and an epidemic of incarceration. Yet African Americans of all backgrounds came together to support Illinois’ Senator Barack Obama in his historic campaign for the presidency of the United States. When he won in 2008, many hoped that America had finally transcended race and racism. By the time of his second victory, it was clear that many issues, including true racial equality, remain to be resolved.

The series airs on PBS between October 22nd and November 26th, with the A More Perfect Union (1968-2013) episode occurring on November 26th from 8-9pm. For more details about the program and to check local listings:

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