But Gates, who is also the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, said the comprehensive story of African Americans dating from before the arrival of slaves to the present day has rarely been told, particularly in schools.
He hopes to remedy the shortfall with "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross," a six-part series premiering Oct. 22 on
"This is a story about agency and self-determination," Gates said as he presnted the series during the PBS portion of the TCA press tour, which concluded Wednesday. "We wanted to create a history for a new genertion that has never watched
Gates said the story is not only about African Americans, "but of America."
The first part of the series, "The Black Atlantic," begins before the first documented "20-and-odd" slaves arrived at
The project is a continuation of Gates' string of films for PBS, which have employed genealogy and genetic science to provide an understanding of African American history. His previoius work for the network includes "African American Lives," "Black in Latin America" and "Looking for Lincoln."
In addition to visiting historical sites around the country, Gates will interview eyewitnesses to events, including school integration pioneers Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Ruby Bridges, former Secretary of State
"All these people are heroes," Gates said.