African American Lives 1

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Biography, Culture Documentary hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and published by PBS in 2006 - English narration

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Image: African-American-Lives-1-Cover.jpg

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Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois professor of the Humanities and chair of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES, an unprecedented four-part PBS series, takes Alex Haley's Roots saga to a whole new level through moving stories of personal discovery. Using genealogy, oral history, family stories and DNA analysis to trace lineage through American history and back to Africa, the series provides a life-changing journey for a diverse group of highly accomplished African Americans: Dr. Ben Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Dr. Mae Jemison, Quincy Jones, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Chris Tucker and Oprah Winfrey.

The series works to restore the participants' lineages in reverse chronological order. Starting with the oral histories of the individuals' families, and drawing on photographs, film clips, music and early personal records, Professor Gates begins to trace their family trees back through the 20th century. Noted historians and expert genealogists around America help fill in missing branches, in the process explaining how such major events as Jim Crow segregation and the post-World War I "Great Migration" from the South to the North helped shape African-American families.

Professor Gates' genealogical research becomes increasingly difficult as he works back through the Reconstruction, Civil War, Colonial and early slave trade periods in American history. When the genealogical road comes to an end, he turns to some of the country's leading scientists who are involved in cutting-edge work using DNA samples to trace ancestral roots to Africa. Finally, Professor Gates joins one series participant in the last leg of the journey, across the Atlantic to the western coast of Africa. There, they visit an area where genetic, historical and anthropological evidence suggests the participant's ancestors lived.

For some Americans, the essential question -- "Where do I come from?" -- cannot be answered; their history has been lost or stolen. But through genealogical research and groundbreaking DNA analysis, AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES not only provides a transformational discovery for several prominent African Americans, but also serves as an example for all Americans of the empowerment derived from knowing their heritage.

[edit] Listening to our Past

In the first episode, Gates begins to piece together the family histories of four of the participants. The episode explores the post-World War I "Great Migration" of African-American families from the South to northern cities like Detroit and Chicago, as well as the experiences of those who stayed in the South during the period of Jim Crow segregation. Gates also begins to examine his own family's past, recounting the discovery of a box of photographs and heirlooms that sparked an obsession with his ancestry. Air date: February 1, 2006

[edit] The Promise of Freedom

Episode two travels back to the end of the Civil War to look at how African Americans defined their freedom after slavery. Gates reviews courthouse records of land acquisitions, documents from the Freedmen's Bureau and the 1870 census -- the first in which African Americans were counted as citizens, not property -- to trace his guests' lineages through Reconstruction. Gates' personal story continues as he seeks to confirm a family legend -- that a white slaveholder is one of his 19th-century ancestors. Air date: February 1, 2006

[edit] Searching for Our Names

Professor Gates' research becomes even more difficult as he continues back through the Colonial period of American history. War service records and ways of recording property during slavery's apogee -- such as inventories and sales or gifts of slaves -- help fill in the participants' family trees. In West Virginia, Gates learns from a court transcript about the legal struggle of his ancestor Isaac Clifford, a free man who was kidnapped and accused of being a runaway slave. Air date: February 8, 2006

[edit] Beyond the Middle Passage

When the paper trail runs out, Dr. Gates visits scientists who are using DNA analysis to trace ancestral roots. With DNA results and genealogical research in hand, Gates meets with leading historians of the slave trade, and along the way, he learns more about his own ancestry. Finally, Professor Gates and one guest journey to Africa, where they visit the port from which the participant's patrilineal ancestor was most likely shipped into slavery, and meet local tribal elders, who may be the participant's long-lost cousins. Air date: February 8, 2006

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Format : x264 CABAC
  • Video bit rate : 1854 Kbps
  • Video Resolution : 704x400
  • Video aspect ratio : 16:9
  • Frame rate : 23.976 fps
  • Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.275
  • Language : English
  • Audio Format : AAC
  • Audio bitrate : 192kbps CBR @48.0KHz
  • Audio Channel(s) : 2 channels
  • Subtitles : None
  • Part Size : 746 MB
  • Number of Parts : 4
  • Runtime Per Part : ~52 mins
  • Source : DVD
  • Encoded by : DocSocrates

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