WLRN continues its celebration of Black History Month with American Experience's The Abolitionists and African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.
The Abolitionists: American Experience Part 3 (8:00 pm)
In the final episode of this three-part series, the battle between pro-slavery and free-soil contingents rises to fever pitch. During his raid on Harpers Ferry, John Brown is captured, then executed, becoming a martyr for the cause. Abraham Lincoln is elected president in 1860. Southern states secede, war breaks out and the conflict unexpectedly drags on. On New Year’s Day 1863, it is announced that Lincoln has emancipated the slaves in rebel territory. African-American men may now enlist in the Union forces; two of Douglass’ sons go to war.
In December 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment is ratified, banning slavery in all states — forever. For almost four decades, the abolitionists have dedicated their lives to this moment. It is a triumph of perseverance, steadfastness, and in the logic and moral power of a movement that never wavered.
African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross – Into the Fire (1861 – 1896) (9:00 pm)
Into the Fire examines the most tumultuous and consequential period in African American history: the Civil War and the end of slavery, and Reconstruction’s thrilling but tragically brief “moment in the sun.” From the beginning, African Americans were agents of their own liberation, forcing the Union to confront the issue of slavery by fleeing the plantations and taking up arms to serve as soldiers in the United States Colored Troops. After Emancipation, African Americans sought to realize the promise of freedom – rebuilding families shattered by slavery; demanding economic, political, and civil rights; even winning elected office. Just a few years later, however, a swift and vicious campaign of terror in the South restored white supremacy and rolled back rights for African Americans. Yet the achievements of Reconstruction would remain very much alive in the collective memory of the African American community.