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PBS Announces "Reconstruction: America After the Civil War," a New Documentary from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., to Air Spring 2019 on PBS

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War (w.t.), a new four-hour documentary executive produced and hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will premiere Spring 2019 on PBS stations nationwide. Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, will present the definitive history 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.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War (w.t.) will take 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 deconstruction. Members of the U.S. Congress endeavored to reunite North and South while granting citizenship rights to newly freed African Americans, in a plan started by President Abraham Lincoln prior to his assassination. 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. Though tragically short-lived, this bold democratic experiment was, in the words of W. E. B. Du Bois, a “brief moment in the sun” for African Americans, when they could advance and achieve education, exercise their right to vote, and run for and win public office.

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Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the executive producer and host of "Reconstruction: America After the Civil War" (w.t.).

Credit: Stephanie Berger

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