Spanish Department screens PBS series 'Black in Latin America'

Feb. 1, 2012
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications

In observance of Black History Month, the Maryville College Spanish Department will screen four documentaries from the 2011 PBS series, “Black in Latin America.”

Starting Feb. 8 and continuing every Wednesday until March 7 (skipping Feb. 15), the screenings will begin at noon in the Lawson Auditorium of Fayerweather Hall. They are free and open to the public.

“Black in Latin America” explores the influence of African descent on Latin America. It was produced, written and presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

“Latin America and the Caribbean have the largest concentration of people with African ancestry outside Africa — up to 70 percent of the population in some countries. The region imported over ten times as many slaves as the United States, and kept them in bondage far longer,” reads a description of the series posted on the PBS website. “On this series of journeys, Professor Gates celebrates the massive influence of millions of people of African descent on the history and culture of Latin America and the Caribbean, and considers why and how their contribution is often forgotten or ignored.”

Dr. Geoffrey Mitchell, Maryville College associate professor of Spanish, said the Spanish Department’s series should offer a slightly different perspective than other Black History Month events.

“Many North Americans are unaware of the significant cultural contribution of the African diaspora in Latin America,” he said. “This documentary series provides a comprehensive look into the various Afro-Latin American communities beyond the borders of the United States."

The dates and titles for the “Black in Latin America” series at Maryville College are as follows:

  • Wed. Feb 8 – “Mexico and Peru: The Black Grandma in the Closet”
  • Wed. Feb 22 – “Cuba: The Next Revolution”
  • Wed. Feb 29 – “Haiti and the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided”
  • Wed. March 7 – “Brazil: A Racial Paradise?”

For more information, visit or contact Alan Watts, instructor of Spanish, at 865.273.8878 or