Africana Studies previews TV series on past 50 years of black history

Despite Barack Obama’s election as the first African-American president of the United States in 2008 and all the political victories won during the Civil Rights Movement, Africana studies scholars say the American dream is still unattainable for a growing underclass of blacks. 
“Black America Since MLK with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,” a new four-hour PBS television series with Harvard professor and historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., explores the past 50 years of African-American history and raises questions about the future of the black community.
Penn’s Department of Africana Studies and Center for Africana Studies, along with WHYY, will present a preview screening of the series and a panel discussion on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m., in the Harrison Auditorium of the Penn Museum, 3260 South St. The screening and panel are free and open to the public. 
The new series examines many of the key events and turning points in the lives of black Americans over the last five decades since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with viewpoints that have rarely been heard on television, ideas that are not often said out loud, and questions that many are afraid to ask. 
Camille Z. Charles, the Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences and director of Penn’s Center for Africana Studies, says the panel discussion will focus on the future of the African-American community with an emphasis on the role of music in expanding the message of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. 
“We will articulate how music addresses some of the unfinished business of the movement,” she says.
The panel of experts joining Gates will include Salamishah Tillet, an associate professor of English and Africana studies at Penn. The event will be hosted by James Peterson, an associate professor of English and director of Africana studies at Lehigh University, a Penn alumnus, and host of WHYY’s “The Remix.” The names of music industry luminaries invited to participate will be announced soon. 
“Black America Since MLK with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” will premiere on WHYY on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m., and will air nationally at various times on PBS television stations across the country. 
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