Civic Leaders, Academics And Celebrities Join Together For Launch Of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s New PBS Documentary Series, Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

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Reconstruction: America After the Civil War is a four-hour documentary series hosted, executive produced and written by Dr. Gates. Dyllan McGee is also an executive producer. Julia Marchesi is the senior producer and director. Rob Rapley, Stacey Holman and Cyndee Readdean are producers/directors. The documentary will premiere on PBS stations on April 9 and 16, 2019.

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Featured guests joining the Milsteins at the launch event included Bill Moyers, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Maurice DuBois, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Hazel Dukes, Bill Thompson, Gay Talese, Michael K. Williams, Gloria Ruben, Zadie Smith, Margaret Hoover, Paul Steiger, Karen Duffy, Simone Boyce, Grace Hightower, Ron Insana, Joel Klein, T.J. Holmes, Faye Wattleton, Rhae Lynn Barnes, Lori Stokes, Louise Mirrer, Dyllan McGee, Rob Rapley, Cyndee Readdean, Stacey Holman and Jonathan Barzilay.

The launch event and public television series are notable for their timeliness. In an era of increasing political hostility and a threatened rollback of affirmative action, civil rights and voting rights legislation, Reconstruction: America After the Civil War presents the definitive history of one of the least understood chapters in American history — the transformative years following the American Civil War when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change. 

“We are honored to play a role in promoting Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s important new documentary,” Howard Milstein said. “In these difficult times, Dr. Gates’ new series should serve as a stark reminder of how fragile our democracy and progress as a nation can be.”

Mr. Milstein added: “As a friend and admirer of Dr. Gates for so many years, I am constantly amazed at both his strength as a storyteller and his ability to foster crucial conversations about race, our humanity, and what it means to be an American.”

Howard and Abby Millstein embody the rare combination of selfless philanthropy and a deep love of history,” said Dr. Gates. “I could not think of a more perfect place to debut our Reconstruction series than at an event at The New-York Historical Society hosted by these special friends.”

The reception and screening were followed by a panel discussion with Professor Gates and fellow academics Eric Foner, Kimberlé Crenshaw and David Blight, as well as Julia Marchesi

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War takes a broad view of Reconstruction and its aftermath, beginning with the hopeful moment of war’s end and emancipation in 1865 and carrying through to 1915, when the nation was fully entrenched in Jim Crow segregation. The first half of the series centers on the pivotal decade following the Civil War rebellion, charting black progress and highlighting the accomplishments of the many political leaders who emerged to usher their communities into this new era of freedom. The series’ second half looks beyond that hopeful decade, when the arc of history bent backwards. The series also explores the flowering of African American art, music, literature and culture as tools of resistance and the surge of political activism that launched the NAACP among other groups. 

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War is a production of McGee Media, Inkwell Films and WETA Washington, DC. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Dyllan McGee are executive producers. Dalton Delan and Anne Harrington are executive producers in charge for WETA. Corporate support for the film is provided by Johnson & Johnson. Major funding is also provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Ford Foundation; The Gilder Foundation; Lloyd Carney Foundation; Dr. Georgette Bennett and Dr. Leonard Polonsky, CBE; and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.  For more information about the documentary series, visit Viewers are encouraged to join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ReconstructionPBS on Facebook and Twitter, and with @HenryLouisGates.

About the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation

The Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation takes on some of the most challenging issues facing the world today. The Foundation’s strategic gifts, institutional leadership and hands-on involvement stimulate innovation, create efficiencies and produce results in seven core areas: Medical Research, Biotechnology & Science; Higher Education & Youth; History; Religious and Communal Organizations; Arts & Culture; Law Enforcement & Homeland Security; and Civic Engagement. 

The Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation ( has served as primary sponsors of several landmark public television programs. In addition to Reconstruction: America After The Civil War, the foundation has underwritten Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s previous documentary series, 2016’s Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise, 2013’s The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, as well as the critically acclaimed PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered, and Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews and the Fate of the World.

James Haggerty

(212) 683-8100


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