Gates Examines Latin America’s African Roots

April 19, 2011  |  

(Boston Globe) — When we think of Latin America, we think of a sprawling quilt of Hispanic cultures sewn in Spain. What we know much less about is the huge African-American population that has been in the region since the Spanish first brought African slaves there.  “Upward of 120 million people of African descent live in Latin America today,’’ says Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who, even though he is a scholar of African-American history, says he was staggered by the number when he first learned of it.  Gates is the ubiquitous face and voice on PBS of the African-American experience whose previous documentaries have focused on the lives of blacks in Africa and this country.  In his new four-part series called “Black in Latin America,’’ which first airs Tuesday on WGBH 2 at 8 p.m., he opens our eyes to the huge, complicated profile of blacks in that region and also provides us the proper context in which we should view American slavery.

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