Make America Black | Georgia Public Broadcasting

PBS Books, in collaboration with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), is pleased to host a conversation with an internationally renowned scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ph.D., who is the executive producer, host and writer of MAKING BLACK AMERICA: THROUGH THE VINE, with an esteemed scholar Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Ph.D.., who is the former outgoing president of ASALH, on Wednesday, September 28 at 8 p.m. ET | 5 p.m. PT. Explore the themes and content of MAKING BLACK AMERICA as Professor Gates discusses his work and process for his new documentary in dialogue with his longtime friend and colleague Professor Higginbotham, both scholars in the field of African-American history.


MAKING BLACK AMERICA: THROUGH THE VINE is a four-part series that explores Black Americans’ long, centuries-long history of building communities and achieving social, political, and economic success in the face of racial segregation; the documentary premieres on PBS stations across the country starting Tuesday, October 4 at 9 p.m. ET (check your local listing). In this latest series from famed Harvard researcher and documentarian, Gates and director Stacey L. Holman chronicle the vast social networks and organizations created by and for black people beyond the reach of the “white gaze”. Over the course of the series, Gates sits down with renowned scholars, politicians, cultural leaders and old friends to discuss this world behind the color line and what it looks like today. MAKE AMERICA BLACK takes viewers into an extraordinary world that has shown the ability of black people to collectively thrive, challenge white supremacy, and define blackness in ways that have transformed America itself.


Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a professor at Alphonse Fletcher University and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. An Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic and institution builder, Professor Gates’ most recent books are Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow and The Black Church: It’s Our Story, It’s Our Song. He has also produced and hosted over 20 documentary films, most recently The black church on PBS and Dark art: in the absence of light for HBO. Find your roots, his groundbreaking series on genealogy and genetics, is now in its eighth season on PBS. It has been called “one of the deepest and wisest series ever to air on television”, leveraging “the medium’s inherent entertaining capacity to educate millions of Americans about the histories and cultures of our nation and the world”.

The recipient of 56 honorary degrees and numerous awards, Professor Gates was a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s first class of “genius grants” in 1981, and in 1998 he became the first African-American scholar to receive the National Humanities Medal. He was named to Time’s 25 Most Influential Americans list in 1997, Ebony’s Power 150 list in 2009, and Ebony’s Power 100 list in 2010 and 2012.


Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, where she has been on the faculty since 1993 and chaired the Department of Studies. Africans and African Americans (2006-2013) and the Department of History (2018-2020).

Higginbotham is also the past national president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founded in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson, the father of black history.

She is co-author with the late John Hope Franklin of the ninth edition and now the tenth edition of From slavery to freedom (2021). A pioneering and award-winning scholar in the history of African American women, she co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the twelve-volume African American National Biography (2013).

His many accolades include the National Medal of Humanities, bestowed by President Barack Obama in September 2015, and most recently an honorary doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2022.

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