Making Black America: Through the Grapevine

Fridays at 8 p.m.

Get prepared for “Black in Arizona” coming Feb. 15 to azpbs.org, the PBS app, and the Arizona PBS YouTube channel.

Making Black America: Through the Grapevine takes viewers into an extraordinary world that showcases Black people’s ability to collectively prosper, defy white supremacy, and define Blackness in ways that transformed America itself. Stream all episodes now via PBS Passport.

Part 1

As Black people fought for full citizenship, hour one explores how free African Americans exercised their self-determination by building communities, establishing schools, and creating associations that would become the foundational pillars of Black America. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the organizations, networks and artistic impression created by and for Black people.

Part 2

As Jim Crow laws went into effect, African Americans built a “life behind the veil” to meet their educational, economic, political, and cultural needs. Hour two explores the genesis of these organizations and networks that paved the way for Black life to flourish. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. highlights the progress Black people made during the early 20th Century.

Part 3

To survive a period of economic cataclysm and global war, African Americans relied on informal economies, grassroots organizations and cultural innovations behind the color line to sustain themselves and dismantle the oppressive realities of Jim Crow.

Part 4

Despite the gains of legal desegregation, all Black political and cultural movements – from Black Power to Black Twitter – continued to provide a safe space for a community riven by class, sexuality and generational divisions to debate, organize and celebrate.

About the series:

Making Black America: Through the Grapevine is a four-part series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., that chronicles the vast social networks and organizations created by and for Black people – beyond the reach of the “White gaze.” Professor Gates sits with noted scholars, politicians, cultural leaders, and old friends to discuss this world behind the color line and what it looks like today.

The latest documentary series by renowned scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., MAKING BLACK AMERICA: THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE highlights the vibrant cultural and social spaces at the heart of the African American experience. 

Dr. Gates is the series executive producer and host, working with directors Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris, who all recently worked together on Gates’s last documentary series, THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG (2021). 

Series directors Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris, noted, “throughout history, African Americans have created a dynamic community and culture that flourished beyond the color line. MAKING BLACK AMERICA celebrates the places and institutions that were built by and for Black people with hope, love and sustained by joy.” 

MAKING BLACK AMERICA chronicles the vast social networks and organizations created by and for Black people beyond the reach of the “White gaze.” The documentary series recounts the establishment of the Prince Hall Masons in 1775 through the formation of all-Black towns and business districts, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, destinations for leisure and the social media phenomenon of Black Twitter. Gates sits with noted scholars, politicians, cultural leaders and old friends including Charles M. Blow (journalist and commentator), Angela Davis (political activist, scholar and author), André Holland (actor), Fab 5 Freddie (hip-hop pioneer and visual artist), Jason King (chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music), Killer Mike (rapper and activist) to discuss this world behind the color line and what it looks like today.

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