The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Featured Interviewees – EPISODE 1

Air date: 10/22/2013

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Featured Interviewees


Episode One: The Black Atlantic   (1500-1800)

Tuesday, October 22, 8-9 p.m.


The Black Atlantic explores the truly global experiences that created the African American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented ‘20-and-odd’ slaves arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, the episode portrays the earliest Africans, both slave and free, who arrived on these shores. But the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would soon become a vast empire connecting three continents. Through stories of individuals caught in its web, like a ten-year-old girl named Priscilla who was transported from Sierra Leone to South Carolina in the mid-18th century, we trace the emergence of plantation slavery in the American South. The late 18th century saw a global explosion of freedom movements, and The Black Atlantic examines what that Era of Revolutions—American, French and Haitian—would mean for African Americans, and for slavery in America.

Edward Ball, professor of English at Yale University

Locations: Comingtee Plantation, Cordesville, SC and South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston, SC



Abu Bangura, Port Loko Village Leader

Location: Port Loko, Sierra Leone


Christopher Brown, professor of history at Columbia University

Location: New York, NY


Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of History at Harvard University

Locations: Cambridge, MA and New Orleans, LA


Annette Gordon-Reed, professor of history at Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA


Jane Landers, professor of history at Vanderbilt University

Location: Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, FL


Thomalind Martin Polite, descendant of Priscilla

Location: Charleston, SC


Sowandé Mustakeem, assistant professor of African and African American studies at Washington University

Location: Charleston, SC


Bernard Powers, professor of history at the College of Charleston

Location: Drayton Hall, Charleston, SC


Isatu Smith, deputy director of the Bunce Island Project

Location: Bunce Island, Sierra Leone


James H. Sweet, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Location: Charles Town, VA


Michael Twitty, culinary historian

Location: Historic London Town and Gardens, Annapolis, MD