Sunday, February 2, 2014

The African Americans: Many River to Cross by Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Donald Yacovone

“The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is a companion book to the six-part, six-hour PBS series of the same title…” presents in much greater detail the 500-year history of the African American people…” This book is full of rich history of the African American people. It describles their journey from distant lands to final destinations in the United States. “Ultimately, by 1867….approximately 12.5 million Africans had been sold into New World slavery. Of the 11 million or so Africans who survived the Middle Passage, only about 388,000 were shipped directly to what became the United States.” Twelve  million of anything is such an enormously huge number that I could barely grasp that fact. According to World Population Statistics, there are approximately 38 million living in the state of California and 12 million is a third of that number.

The book gives further information regarding great explorers and their contributions to society, such as Juan Garrido, Esteban, Jan Rodrigues, Gaspar Yanga and Juan Beltran. The better known Garrido is chronicled and followed, as is Esteban.

‘The African Americans’ also discusses slavery, “the introduction of slavery into Virginia was neither accidental nor incidental, but reflected a developing Atlantic-wide effort by England to increase its power and extract wealth from the New World.” The numbers in this category were astounding: by 1830, the black populations…. about 2.3 million in North America and 2.4 million in the Caribbean. (Brazil, incredibly, received about five million slaves.)

The book continues up to 2013, “The combination of events that the country celebrated on January 21, 2013, would have been utterly unimaginable to virtually any of the historical figures whose lives and times we have been chronicling between the early 16th century and early 21st century: the second inauguration of the first black president…”

This history book does not miss a beat when it comes to sharing the historical events, whether good, bad or indifferent of a people that helped shaped the New World. Yes, The African Americans did cross many rivers to get here and we are the better for it. I highly recommend this book be read by history buffs and people who want to know the real story.

(I received this book from Hay House Publishing for review purposes)

No comments: