- Written by Belinda Elliott
- Category: Arts & Entertainment
- Published: 27 March 2019
Marathon begins Sunday, June 8, 2:30 p.m.
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, presents the definitive account of one of the least understood chapters in American history — the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change. His new four-hour documentary takes a broad view of the Reconstruction era and its aftermath, beginning with the hopeful moment of war’s end and emancipation in 1865, and carrying through to 1915, when the nation was fully entrenched in Jim Crow segregation.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the nation was devastated by death and destruction. Members of the U.S. Congress endeavored to reunite North and South while granting citizenship rights to newly freed African Americans. Millions of former slaves and free black people sought out their rightful place as equal citizens under the law. The dream of an interracial democracy was brief, and the broken promises of the Reconstruction era haunt the country to this day.
“Reconstruction is one of the most important and consequential chapters in American history,” said Gates. “It is also among the most overlooked, misunderstood and misrepresented. Our film will tell the real story of Reconstruction, honoring the struggle of the African Americans who fought their way out of slavery and challenged the nation to live up to the founding ideals of democracy, freedom and equality. But we will also tell the tragic story of the sustained and often violent pushback against Reconstruction’s determination to secure equal rights for black people, and the subsequent rise of white supremacy leading to the implementation of Jim Crow segregation. More than 150 years later, this struggle continues.”
Featuring interviews with leading historians and other experts, Reconstruction explores the nation’s thwarted vision for interracial democracy and highlights the development of African American art, music, literature and culture as tools of resistance in the struggle against Jim Crow racism, and the surge of political activism that marked the launch of iconic civil rights organizations.
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