Research News

Historian Landers featured in new PBS series ‘The African Americans’

Jane Landers (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt historian Jane G. Landers appears in the first episode of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates Jr., a new PBS documentary series for which she served as a historical consultant.

Landers, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History, consulted on the six-hour series, which premieres Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. CST. The African Americans will broadcast Tuesdays through Nov. 26.

The series’ first episode, “The Black Atlantic (1500 – 1800),” includes Landers discussing early black settlements and history. She was interviewed for the documentary in St. Augustine, Fla., the site of her research into Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the earliest free black town in what is now the United States. The town was established by runaway slaves from South Carolina and Georgia. Landers, who specializes in the history of Africans in colonial Latin America and the world, is working on a biography of the town’s leader, Francisco Menendez.

The sweeping PBS series explores the history and experiences of the African American people across 500 years of history up to the present day. As series consultant, Landers provided story ideas, reviewed scripts for accuracy and served as a source of historical information for the documentary’s writers.

For more information on the series, visit