Africans In America

PBS Oct. 19-22

In four 90-minute episodes, this documentary attempts to tell the story of slavery from 1619, when a ship carrying a cargo of Africans arrived at Jamestown, to the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. The material is inherently fascinating, and overall the producers have done a fine job of presenting it, combining historical images, impressionistic re-enactments, interviews with historians and voice-over readings of letters and diaries (the narration is spoken by Angela Bassett). If there's a quibble, it's that the re-enactments, done in soft-focus and slow motion, are overused, and one wishes for a fuller description of the slaves' separate culture....

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