BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — After a tragedy like the Trayvon Martin killing, calls routinely arise for a conversation about race.

But Henry Louis Gates says a more direct way for change is through schools and their curriculum.

That's what this historian-filmmaker is hoping will happen with "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross," a six-hour documentary series tracing 500 years of black history.

Gates said Wednesday that he hopes the series will find its way into the nation's schools as well as living rooms, and that it will acquaint audiences of all ages and backgrounds with black history as it has unfolded in the New World since the early 1500s.

Gates says this isn't the history of George Washington. It's the history of his slave, Harry Washington.

The series premieres October 22 on PBS.