What color are you? Maybe the most important question in American history. When 60 Africans were taken to Jamestown, Virginia aboard a pirate ship in 1619, they were not “black.” The English there were not “white” and the indigenous peoples were not “red.” Race as we know it had not yet been invented. The History of White People in America is the story of how skin became color, color became race and race became power.
Room 608, Inc. and Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), has created a series of 16 animated, musical shorts that reveal the history of race in America—from the 17th century to the 21st. The series captures the truth of what it means to be American and that our racial history deserves contemplation.
Season one of The History of White People in America is now available and features three episodes:
How America Invented Race (YouTube): The white “race” was invented by rich Virginians in 1676 in the aftermath of a populous rebellion of impoverished, indentured, and enslaved Africans and Europeans now known as Bacon’s Rebellion.
How America Outlawed Interracial Marriage (YouTube): In the decades after Bacon's Rebellion, an African man and an English woman—husband and wife—sing of their fate, their future as law by law, edict by edict, their family, their marriage, their love are made illegal.
How America Made Skin Color Power (YouTube): How skin became color, color became race and race became power as told by President Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and one of their six children, Eston Hemings.
Find out more at The History of White People in America website.