Black in Latin America

Linked on our blogs with Black in Latin America /Mexico and Peru: A Hidden Race.

Black in Latin America, a new four-part series on the influence of African descent on Latin America, is the 11th and latest production from renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., writer and presenter of the acclaimed PBS series African American Lives 1 (2006), Oprah’s Roots (2007), African American Lives 2 (2008), Looking for Lincoln (2009) and most recently Faces of America (2010). Black in Latin America is the third of a trilogy that began in 1999 with the broadcast of Professor Gates first series for public television, Wonders of the African World, an exploration of the relationship between Africa and the New World, a story he continued in 2004 with America Beyond the Color Line, a report on the lives of modern-day African Americans. Black In Latin America, premiering nationally Tuesdays April 19, 26 and May 3, 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean … (about 1/2).

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About 2/2: … Latin America is often associated with music, monuments and sun, but each of the six countries featured in Black in Latin America including the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, has a secret history.

On his journey, Professor Gates discovers, behind a shared legacy of colonialism and slavery, vivid stories and people marked by African roots. Latin America and the Caribbean have the largest concentration of people with African ancestry outside Africa — up to 70 percent of the population in some countries. The region imported over ten times as many slaves as the United States, and kept them in bondage far longer. On this series of journeys, Professor Gates celebrates the massive influence of millions of people of African descent on the history and culture of Latin America and the Caribbean, and considers why and how their contribution is often forgotten or ignored.

Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided In the Dominican Republic, Professor Gates explores how race has been socially constructed in a society whose people reflect centuries of inter-marriage, and how the country’s troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification. In Haiti, Professor Gates tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic, and finds out how the slaves’s hard fought liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire became a double-edged sword.

Cuba: The Next Revolution In Cuba Professor Gates finds out how the culture, religion, politics and music of this island are inextricably linked to the huge amount of slave labor imported to produce its enormously profitable 19th century sugar industry, and how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959.

Brazil: A Racial Paradise? In Brazil, Professor Gates delves behind the façade of Carnival to discover how this ‘rainbow nation’ is waking up to its legacy as the world’s largest slave economy.

Mexico & Peru: The Black Grandma in the Closet In Mexico and Peru Professor Gates explores the almost unknown history of the significant numbers of black people—the two countries together received far more slaves than did the United States —brought to these countries as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, and the worlds of culture that their descendants have created in Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico, the Costa Chica region on the Pacific, and in and around Lima, Peru.

Black in Latin America is a production of Inkwell Films, Wall to Wall Productions and THIRTEEN in association with WNET. Written and presented by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Executive producers are Henry Louis Gates Jr., Jonathan Hewes and William R. Grant. Series producer is Ricardo Pollack. Directors are Ricardo Pollack (Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided and Brazil: A Racial Paradise?), Diene Petterle (Cuba: The Next Revolution) and Ilana Trachtman (Mexico & Peru: A Hidden Race). Funding for Black in Latin America is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Stations and Viewers Like You. Additional funding is provided by the Ford Foundation, Richard Gilder and Alphonse Fletcher.

About Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Executive Producer, Writer, Presenter: … (full text about).

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