Movie Details

This PBS documentary miniseries sheds new light on an unfortunate period in American history, when the country's black citizens were legally -- and often violently -- kept "in their place" by the white hierarchy. Though promised full freedom and certain reparations after the Civil War, African-Americans soon found themselves being suppressed by organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and such odious legislation as the "lynch laws." With the Plessy vs. Ferguson case of 1896, even the American government conspired to reduce blacks to second-class citizen status, declaring that legalized segregation was perfectly acceptable, so long as it was "separate but equal," a phrase that quickly became a bitter joke. Thanks to such tireless black civil libertarians as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells, Walter White, and Charles Hamilton Houston, persistent efforts to assure racial equality (notably the NAACP) were set in motion -- often with tragic and bloody repercussions -- but it was not until the Brown vs. Board of Education case of 1954 that the repressive "Jim Crow" laws truly began to disintegrate. The series is divided into four hour-long episodes: "Promises Betrayed (1865-1896)," "Fighting Back (1896-1917)," "Don't Shoot Too Soon (1918-1940)," and "Terror and Triumph (1940-1954)." The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow made its first PBS appearance on October 1, 2002. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi