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Frontline: Two Nations of Black America

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the gap between the upper and lower classes of black America and probes why it has happened. Reviewing the thirty years that have passed since the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., Gates shows that while many blacks reaped the reward of the civil rights movement, just as many were left behind in an expanding underclass of poverty. Featuring interviews with Cornel West, Eldridge Cleaver, Angela Davis and more.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Directors: Henry Louis Gates;Jr.
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: May 6, 2008
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001690X2O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,445 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

This was good in terms of trying to bring up a lot of material in a short matter of time. They brought up DuBois' coining and abandoning of the "Talented Tenth" concept. It spoke of how Dr. King was assassinated right before he was trying to head a march that addressed poverty.

In style and format, this work is very similar to Skip Gates' "Color Line" documentary. Just like with that work, I felt that this work was a bit "dumbed down." Gates' "Signifying Monkey" is no easy afternoon read. Here he asks questions of which I know he knows the answers. Yes, it is great that Gates can speak to elite and quotidian audiences, but still there's a way in which these works are "beneath" him. If Mariah Carey sung a nursery rhyme, I would not be impressed the way I am when she belts out those high notes in her radio hits. That same feeling applies to Dr. Gates.

Still, class divisions are not necessarily new in Black American communities. Even pre-Civil Right Era, there were parties to which only the richest were invited. There were monied Blacks who looked down upon poor Blacks. The difference between then and now is that Blacks of all classes were not allowed to live in white areas or attend white educational institutions. I really wish the work touched on how classism and colorism intersect. That goes back all the way to who slaved in the house and who slaved in the fields. There is still a perception that rich Blacks will be light-skinned and poor Blacks will be dark-skinned. Unfortunately, that never comes up here.

Too, there were issues brought up outside of the discussion. One sees Dr. Angela Davis critiquing the Million Man March. What did that have to do with class divisions?! Gender divisions, yes, but class divisions, no!
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I love documentaries and I always learn something from those of Professor Gates. In Two Nations of Black America he discusses the problem with other black leaders. I am not an African American: my ancestors are Europeans. I have worked with Mexicans and African Americans in the US and overseas. In elementary school I was fascinated by the history of Haiti and read a lot of books about the slave revolt there. When I had the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I visited Haiti and was impressed with their dignity despite their obvious poverty. I saw the message on the presidential palace in Port au Prince, the residence of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier: "Je suis le peuple Haitien, Uni and Indivisible". Duvalier was put in power by the US military to keep his people in line. When the lights went out at night, Papa Doc's thugs went into the slums to crack heads. The US marines landed at Haiti's capital to collect reparations to send to France for the losses they incurred when the slaves revolted. In fact, Haiti was the richest slave colony in the world and France had to sell the Louisiana Territory to the US because its government was broke. Slavery created a lot of wealth for the US and Caribbean Countries. I would like to note that Dr. Gates has also released a DVD and blu-ray titled Black in Latin America which includes "Haiti and the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided" and "Cuba: The Next Revolution" which I highly recommend.
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I am a big fan of Mr. Gates and he did not dissapoint me with this documentary. I found it intriguing from beginning to end. It is told with sincerity and a focus on details and factual support. I like that Henry Gates touches the personal side of history but does not get overly emotional even when the situations he describes elicits strong emotions.
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Love the dvd. Mr. Gates is a great historian and interviewer and anyone who's a black history fan or student will find this documentary insightful. Shorter than his "Colorblind in America" program,this is still a disc worth checking out,with his interviews with civil rights figures and average-man-on-the-street observations.
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