This Week on American Black Journal:
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s “Making Black America” Documentary Tells the Story of African American Resilience, Empowerment
Acclaimed documentarian, historian and storyteller Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the creator of “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song” and “Finding Your Roots,” has produced a new PBS documentary, “Making Black America: Through the Grapevine,” celebrating Black joy and resilience. The four-part documentary series, which airs every Tuesday in October at 9 p.m., chronicles the vast social networks and organizations created by and for Black people beyond the reach of the “white gaze.”
The 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. It 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.
Ahead of the documentary series premiere, Host Stephen Henderson talks with “Making Black America” producer and director Stacey Holman about the organizations and networks profiled in the documentary, the importance of community and creative spaces for African Americans, and how Black people have remained resilient and joyful even amid struggles.
How has the history of Detroit’s Black Greek letter organizations — fraternities and sororities — helped to produce a safe, welcoming community for African Americans in Detroit, one of America’s largest majority-Black cities? In conjunction with acclaimed documentarian Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s new PBS documentary, “Making Black America: Through the Grapevine,” Detroit Public Television and WDET-FM teamed up to host its “Making Black Detroit” town hall with local chapters of The Divine Nine.
“American Black Journal” premieres a portion of the in-person town hall with moderator Mark S. Lee, president and CEO of The Lee Group, and The Divine Nine fraternities and sororities. They talk about the history, contributions and future of Black Greek letter organizations from a local perspective.