Black Women’s Achievements: The Golden Age - the Root
It is fitting that my latest PBS series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, draws to a close tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. ET with episode 6, “A More Perfect Union (1968-2013).” After all, Thanksgiving week is a time for reflection, family, community and the humble expression of gratitude dating back to the Civil War, when, in a proclamation issued on Oct. 3, 1863, President Lincoln wrote, “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.” Earlier in the year, Lincoln had issued another proclamation—the Emancipation Proclamation—setting the slaves of the Confederate South on the road to freedom. “We have not come this far alone,” as the black tradition so wisely says. What’s more, “We have come this far by faith.”
With this in mind, let me thank the readers of The Root, and the millions of viewers who have given your time and attention to our six-hour television series tracing the 500-year sweep of African American history across many rivers, from the age of exploration to the re-election of a black man as leader of the free world. Over these past six weeks, I hope I have provided you, your friends and families with fruitful conversation for the Thanksgiving table and, I hope, beyond, especially in our schools. Without doubt, the challenges we face as a people can feel daunting at times—from mass unemployment to mass incarceration, persistent childhood poverty to underfunded schools in crowded cities, public health concerns, increasing inequality and what my friend and colleague Larry Bobo has called “laissez-faire racism.” But if the stories of real people, our people, animating this series have taught us anything, it is that history—like the future—is ours to shape.