‘Many Rivers to Cross’ takes another step

African-Americans fought bravely during World War II to protect their country from the evils of tyranny.

Then they came home and discovered that their beloved America didn’t always love them back.

“African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (1940-1968)” takes another step on the journey of Americans who found themselves still struggling for equality. The latest installment in the series airs Tuesday at 7 p.m. on Panhandle PBS.


The modern civil rights movement took root right after World War II’s end in 1945. Those brave Americans who fought for their country returned to segregated restrooms and restaurants. They were denied service and lodging.

Major League Baseball would be integrated in 1947 when Jackie Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers; many more African American athletes would follow. A young lawyer named Thurgood Marshall would argue before the U.S. Supreme Court against the “separate but equal” doctrine that segregated public schools in the historic Brown v. the Board of Education case that was decided in 1954.

Other events and individuals came along in the years after the war.

Civil disobedience became a strategy for protesters seeking redress against discrimination on the basis of race. The chief practitioner was a young Baptist preacher from Atlanta, Ga., named Martin Luther King Jr.

He would take part in that historic march on Washington, D.C., which occurred 50 years ago.

An assassin would strike him down less than five years later.

The PBS series far has told stories of heartache and violence against Americans. More of it came upon them after they came home from the foreign battlefields. They endured and sought remedies through the government.

President John F. Kennedy was cut down in November 1963, but his successor, President Lyndon Johnson of Texas, made sure to enact the Voting Rights and Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, granting full political power to every American.

Take a look Tuesday night at the latest installment of “African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.” It will remind you of the struggles of people who deserved better when they came home from war.


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