For African Americans, Uncovering a Painful Past

It is easier for African-Americans to talk about their roots these days than it was even a decade ago. People then didn't openly debate the slave descendants of Thomas Jefferson, discuss black slave owners or see whites sitting alongside blacks searching for their shared African ancestors.

Since the first broadcast of the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries Roots, Hollywood, in such films as Glory, Amistad and Beloved, has helped depict a more complex picture of race relations in early America. Combined with new literature and scholarship on the African American experience such as John Hope Franklin's Runaway Slaves, the companion to the four-part,...

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