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Click Here for a Preview of the Program

Available on DVD and Blu-ray Prior to the Start of Black History Month

Features Interviews With Donna Brazile, Ava DuVernay, Former Attorney General Eric Holder, Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Robert L. Johnson, Nas, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey and Many More


Arlington, Va. – December 7, 2016 – PBS Distribution announced today it is releasing “BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE” on DVD and Blu-ray. The series is hosted, executive produced and written by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

In the program Henry Louis Gates, Jr. looks at the last 50 years of African American history — from Dr. King to Barack Obama, from James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud” to Beyoncé’s “Formation” — charting the remarkable progress black people have made and raising hard questions about the obstacles that remain. The series begins at a point in history when the story we tell about ourselves as Americans  becomes complicated. Almost every schoolchild today learns about the civil rights movement — about how our nation moved itself forward, against the will of many, out of a shameful past. Yet what has happened since?  From here, the series steps out of the sanctified past and into the complex, raw, conflicted present. Today, Barack Obama sits in the White House and African Americans wield influence in every domain, from business to academia to the arts. At the same time, black people are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people, and due to  financial inequality white people now have 13 times the wealth of black people. Many of our schools and neighborhoods are more segregated than they were in 1965, and police killings of unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and Baton Rouge recur with tragic frequency — inspiring radically different responses within black and white communities. How did we end up here, when half a century ago racial equality seemed imminent — even inevitable?

BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE” will be available on DVD and Blu-ray January 10, 2017. Its run time is approximately 240 minutes on 2 discs. The DVD SRP is 29.99 and the Blu-ray SRP is $34.99. The program will also be available for digital download.

Professor Gates offers a fresh examination of key events and turning points in American race relations and black history over the last five decades — animated by viewpoints that have rarely been heard on television, ideas that are not often said out loud and questions that many are afraid to ask. Has the promise of the civil rights movement truly been realized? What obstacles have stood in the way of full racial equality? How did African Americans themselves contribute to this trajectory? Do attempts to level the playing field for black people automatically come at the expense of white people? And, as we turn from the past to the present, have we as a country moved on from the ideas about race that once defined us? And if so, why does race still have the power to divide?

“We are at a critical moment in the black experience in America,” says Gates. “Over the past 50 years, following the remarkable strides made during the civil rights movement of Dr. King, African Americans have achieved a level of cultural, political and economic influence that those early civil rights leaders could hardly have dreamed of. At the same time, poverty remains a stubbornly persistent way of life for far too many African Americans, incarceration rates in our community are at an-all time high and people are crying out to have their basic human dignity recognized, leading some to wonder if things really have changed. This series looks at the rich history of how we arrived where we are today, through all the highs and lows, and poses provocative questions about how we keep up a momentum of progress.”

The series has the distinctive, personal tone of an essay, but it is also filled with compelling reflections upon key events that have occurred over the last 50 years from African Americans who shaped our shared history. Among those interviewed are Oprah Winfrey, Nas, Ava DuVernay, Jesse Jackson, Dr. Cornel West, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Donna Brazile, Robert L. Johnson, DeRay Mckesson, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Shonda Rhimes — as well as eyewitnesses to Hurricane Katrina, public intellectuals, education reformers, police officers in communities that have been shaken by racial unrest, and many others.

In essence, “BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE” chronicles the extraordinary changes that have marked our nation through the eyes of members of the black community who represent its great diversity — a diversity manifested, on one hand, in the rise of a thriving black upper middle class, unparalleled black cultural influence and our nation’s first black president, alongside the emergence of disproportionate poverty, mass incarceration and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

With this series, Gates — the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research — continues a tradition of producing sophisticated documentary films about the African and African-American experience for a broad audience, including the Emmy Award-winning documentary The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and African American Lives.

The program begins in 1965, in the wake of Malcolm X’s assassination and the passage of the Voting Rights Act — which was followed five days later by an incendiary explosion of black rage: the Watts riots. It moves on to explore the burgeoning Black Power movement which took much of America (including many old-school black leaders) by surprise, telling stories of Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panthers and cultural icons like James Brown alongside an exploration of the cultural trends that expressed black pride — from Afros and dashikis to “Soul Train.” The series continues, charting a wave of new opportunities and new consciousness that would lift African Americans to undreamed-of heights — in Ivy League schools, major corporations, the Supreme Court and even the White House.

While portraying these unprecedented victories, Gates also questions why another swath of African Americans have been left behind — as the country’s class divide has deepened over the last 50 years causing the most vulnerable to suffer in ways that Dr. King and his peers in the civil rights movement would never have thought possible.

By examining the changes to black America wrought by cultural and political forces, new questions of identity, new modes of communication, a globalizing economy and mass incarceration, Gates asks what the black community has accomplished since 1965 — and what it means to be “black” today? These profound questions evoke both the immense progress that has been made and the great challenges that lie ahead.

BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE” is a production of Inkwell Films, McGee Media, Kunhardt Films and WETA Washington, DC, in association with Ark Media. The documentary is hosted, executive produced, and written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Additional executive producers include Dyllan McGee and Peter Kunhardt, and the executive producers for WETA are Dalton Delan and Anne Harrington. Rachel Dretzin of Ark Media is the senior producer. Leslie Asako Gladsjo and Sabin Streeter are the series producers. Leslie Asako Gladsjo, Talleah Bridges McMahon, Sabin Streeter and Leah Williams are directors. Major corporate support for “BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE” is provided by Bank of America and Johnson & Johnson. Major support is also provided by the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation, in partnership with HooverMilstein and Emigrant Bank; Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Ford Foundation Just Films; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and public television viewers and PBS.


About WETA Washington, DC
WETA Washington, DC, is one of the largest producing stations of new content for public television in the United States. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NewsHour, Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG, Latino Americans, The Italian Americans, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Season Three and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns and by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.


About McGee Media
McGee Media was founded by award-winning filmmaker Dyllan McGee to produce documentary content that is innovative, compelling and immersive. Every story is born from a vision of a more fair and equitable world. Whether it is the sweeping history of the African-American experience or the intimate personal stories of the hundreds of women who made up the feminist movement, McGee Media uses television, film and digital media in radical new ways to inform and inspire. Current projects include: MAKERS (AOL), Once & For All (AOL) and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (PBS).


About Kunhardt Films
Kunhardt Films produces documentaries about the people and ideas that shape our world. Most recently completed is JIM, a two-hour film about the life and imprisonment of journalist James Foley. Other films include Living with Lincoln (HBO, 2015.); Nixon By Nixon: In His Own Words (HBO, 2014); Finding your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Season 2 (PBS, 2014); Makers: Women Who Make America, Season 2 (PBS, 2014); The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (PBS, 2013); Gloria: In Her Own Words (HBO, 2011) and Teddy: In His Own Words (HBO, 2009). Kunhardt Films was founded in 1987 as Kunhardt Productions. It is run by Peter Kunhardt and his sons Teddy and George.


About Inkwell Films 

Inkwell Films was founded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to produce sophisticated documentary films about the African and African-American experience for a broad audience. The six-part PBS documentary series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013) earned the 2013 Peabody Award and NAACP Image Award. Inkwell Films has co-produced Finding Your Roots (Seasons 1-3), Black in Latin America (2011), Faces of America (2010), Looking for Lincoln (2009), African American Lives 2 (2008), Oprah’s Roots (2007) and African American Lives (2006).


About Ark Media

Ark Media is an award-winning documentary film company founded in 1997 by the husband and wife producing team of Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin. Ark partnered with Kunhardt-McGee Productions on the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), Finding Your Roots (Seasons 1-3) and Faces of America (2010) and, also with Kunhardt-McGee, produced Looking for Lincoln (2009) and the Makers project for PBS. Ark also partnered with WETA Washington, DC, on the award-winning six-hour series Ken Burns Presents Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies A Film by Barak Goodman and the four-hour series The Italian-Americans. Ark’s numerous films for the esteemed PBS series’ Frontline and American Experience have won nearly every major broadcast award: the Emmy, duPont-Columbia, Robert F. Kennedy, Writers Guild and Peabody Awards, as well as earning an Academy Award nomination and official selection to the Sundance Film Festival. Ark has also produced documentaries for The New York Times, American Movie Classics, ABC and the History Channel. For more information, visit www.ark-media.net.



About PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution is the leading media distributor for the public television community, both domestically and internationally, extending the reach of these programs beyond broadcast while generating revenue for the public television system, stations, and producers. 


PBS Distribution offers a broad range of high quality content in multiple formats including DVD, Blu-ray, digital download, and digital streaming.  PBS International offers factual content for broadcast, cable, and satellite services internationally.  The PBS Distribution catalog includes films from Ken Burns, documentaries from award-winning series such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE, and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, dramas from MASTERPIECE, as well as films from independent producers and popular children’s programming.



Street Date: January 10, 2017

Genre: Documentary

Run Time: Approximately 240 minutes on 2 discs

SRP: DVD, $29.99, Blu-ray $34.99

Format: DVD and Blu-ray