Everything you learned about Reconstruction and its aftermath was wrong.  This 4-part PBS series, hosted by William Louis Gates, aims to redress that.

Gates uses a combination of contemporary testimonials and modern historical commentary to provide a good picture of what Reconstruction attempted to do, how it failed and, most importantly, how the history of the period was rewritten in succeeding decades,  The presentation is quiet and matter-of-fact, despite testimonials that range from the soul-wrenching (freed slaves looking for family members that had been sold away) to horrifying (massacres of free black communities and lynching parties).

There’s an amusing episode where Gates interviews Cornell West, where West sounds like the well-educated Ivy League professor he actually is rather than the crackpot rap artist he often pretends to be.

If you’re a PBS member, you should be able to stream this for free.  Otherwise, it’s on Amazon.

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