Africans in America America's Journey through Slavery 2 4 Revolution 1750 1805

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“Africans in America: America’s Journey through Slavery”, is a four-part documentary that originally aired on PBS in October 1998. It traces the history of African Americans from the early colonial era through the Civil War with focus on enslaved blacks and on their struggle to cope with and overcome slavery. .

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The second episode: “Revolution” (1750-1805) is the story of the American Revolution. While the American colonies challenge Britain for independence, American slavery is challenged from within, as men and women fight to define what the country will be. In the upheaval of war, up to 100,000 black people escape their bondage and threaten the institution of slavery as never before. Initially, Colonial Commander George Washington refuses to allow black volunteers into his army. But when Lord Dunmore, the British Governor of Virginia, promises freedom to slaves and indentured servants who will fight against their colonial masters for England, the American high command is forced to reconsider. Black people, both slave and free, seize on the language of natural rights and equality that is rising throughout the land. But after the War of Independence is won, the nation’s Constitution codifies slavery and oppression as a way of life. As the 18th century comes to a close, it is clear that America hopes to walk a dangerous tightrope between property rights and human rights, between slavery and freedom.

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The documentary was produced and directed by Orlando Bagwell, Susan Bellows, W. Noland Walker, Jacquie Jones, and Llewellyn Smith.