This extraordinary book--the accompanying volume to the PBS series--looks at the history of slavery in the United States with an honesty that reveals both horror and heroism in the common humanity of all Americans. Uncovering the indigenous history of African slavery and the involvement of Arab and European nations, it then traces the journey of enslaved Africans across the "Middle Passage" of the Atlantic to the Caribbean and America. Charles Johnson's spellbinding fictional narratives beautifully evoke the feeling of times and places, such as the Haitian revolution or the plantation slave society. In "The Transmission," two captives in the bottom of a slave ship try to preserve their heritage. "Oboto quietly sang to his brother--in a language their captors could not understand--how their people long ago had navigated the New World ... on and on like a tapestry, Oboto unfurled their past, rituals, and laws in songs and riddles..."
Poet/journalist Patricia Smith's historical anecdotes and references to legendary African American heroes (including Olaudah Equiano, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass), juxtaposed with rare documents, letters, slave advertisements, slave-ship cargo diagrams, and paintings, provide evidence of the African American fight for freedom, from the black soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War to the Underground Railroad to the return to combat in the Civil War. When emancipation finally came, Smith writes, "the newly liberated slaves sang for themselves, for their new country, and for the thousands upon thousands of Africans ripped from the clutches of home." --Eugene Holley Jr.
Outstanding . . . It is a triumph of historical research, worthy of a place on anyone's bookshelf.-USA Today
What Eyes on the Prize did for the civil rights movement, Africans in America will do for slavery."-The Village Voice
A magnificent achievement, history at its superb best, brilliantly researched, poetically written, brimming over with original documents that cannot help but move the reader.--Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States