black history, through family trees
On the one hand, it is not important for us to be informed of history;
The hope of this country is an open and infinite future.
But identity politics shows that the past exists: we cannot know ourselves without knowing where we are from.
\"African American Life\"
The hour PBS series premiered on Channel 2 at 9 tonight falls on the latter.
Indeed, it depicts people like Oprah Winfrey, whose unspeakable tragic childhood hardly predicts her current situation.
But it also shows that family history is fate. -
Part of the reason Oprah became Oprah was because her ancestors were firm and strong.
The series begins with host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Visit Ellis Island, where white Americans come to find their European roots.
Gates claimed that black people deserve the same information;
Just, so far, they lack the means to find it.
They may also have no reason to ask.
\"If you\'re on the run, man, you don\'t care about bloodlines,\" says Quincy Jones, a record producer and composer . \".
\"African American Life\" undertakes the arduous task of tracking black history through family history, focusing on people we basically know.
Along with Gates, Winfrey and Jones, the series traces the family tree of actress UPI Goldberg, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Pastor T BishopD.
Harvard professor Sarah Lawrence astronaut Mei Jamison
Comedian Chris Tucker.
Each episode takes us further in time, first of all the Jim Crowe era and the Great Migration, then the days of slavery and reconstruction, and finally Africa.
If nothing else, this is an amazing historical undertaking, a massive detailed project that tracks genealogical records and analyzes DNA brushed from celebrity cheeks.
But the greater power of this project comes from the past.
Speak with the least-
Head expert, it tells a little story that makes history feel more real.
For example, we met a white genealogist who might be Gates\'s distant cousin.
We know Tucker is great.
Grandfather saved a black Georgian town from extinction by selling land to families who would move north.
We know that Winfrey is great.
Great-grandfather built a school on his property.
We\'re with Winfrey\'s father. He still doesn\'t.
Nashville\'s budget barber shop is as notable as anyone else.
Winfrey took over her share of the screen in part because of her eloquence.
Tucker provided a vehicle for returning to Africa, where he was face-to-face with his roots.
Goldberg cleverly cut into documentary conventions: when Gates asked her what it would feel like to find her roots, she replied, \"I don\'t know.
I don\'t want to make up a feeling.
I want to feel it.
\"Robert Gates, head of African-American Research at Harvard University, has a good attitude towards this comment;
As a host and guide, he is a passionate and dynamic presence. (
He\'s also a social chameleon.
When he spoke to Winfrey, he was wearing a neat pinstriped suit, a pink --
Striped polo shirt with Tucker. )
Still, the way he called the eight celebrities \"my guests\" was a bit too precious.
His happiness will also look strange.
\"If I find any information about a slave at home,\" he once said, \"I will be a happy person.
\"In fact, this is where the life of \'African-America\' has become a little dissatisfied.
In many cases, the documentary became Oprah.
An emotional detective story in which all knowledge is undisguised.
So we were surprised by the presence of white people in Quincy Jones\'s family tree, but we did not discuss possible cross-racial union violence during slavery.
We think of the Middle Passage and the horror of slavery. -
Gates mentioned the compensation debate almost jokingly ---
But the show does not look at the challenges facing Africa.
Americans who are not rich or famous today
However, it is obvious that more knowledge is better than less knowledge;
As their family history reveals, these celebrities are really grateful.
The problem is that the modern American life, we see the past in Africa is a pure pride.
After Gates learned, DNA
It is wise that he is not as African as he thought, and his disappointment is obvious.
\"I have Blues,\" he said . \"
\"Can I still have blues music ? \"