Boston-based film producer William H. “Smitty” Smith has devoted his life to race amity, the enduring friendships between people of different races that have created profound, historic change.

“Race relations in America won’t improve unless the public discourse and analysis of history moves beyond blame, grievance and rejection,” he says.

It’s the topic of his new series, American Stories: Race Amity and the Other Tradition, which premieres on GBH 2 on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. “Race amity is the other American ‘tradition,’ along with racism,” he said.

“We are all familiar with the tradition of racism going back to Day One in 1619 when slaves arrived on these shores,” he said. “There’s always been a moral counterweight to racism, but most of society is ignorant about it.”

We are aware of the influence of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but how many know of his deep friendship with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel or Eleanor Roosevelt’s close ties to Black educator Mary McLeod Behune?

Six episodes of American Stories let us in on those and other such transformative relationships that advance equity and social justice. “The General and the Quaker” tells the story of Harriet Tubman and Quaker abolitionist Thomas Garrett, who collaborated on the Underground Railroad.

“Low Country Teacher and the Hillbilly” recounts civil rights activist Septima Clark and educator Myles Horton, who founded a training institute on social justice and leadership.

Amity and Brotherhood for Education” shows the relationship of educator Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald, part owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co., who constructed thousands of schools for Black children in the segregated South.

Thousands of such stories exist throughout our history, said Smith, who is also founding executive director at the National Center for Race Amity. He has also served on GBH’s Community Advisory Board.

“There is exponential moral power in race amity," said Smith. “It doesn’t take a large number of people to change the world," he said.

“The friendship in the 1700s between Charles Thompson, secretary of the First Continental Congress and Teedyuscung, chief of the Delaware Indians, determined the course of the French and Indian War, which set the stage for the American Revolution 20 years later,” he said.

Frederick Douglass' campaign to end slavery gained strength through his friendship with Daniel O’Connell, who was fighting for Catholic emancipation in Ireland.

With the series airing as the nation is in the throes of a reckoning about our racial divides, Smith said he hopes his series will make an impact.

“I hope viewers will be lifted out of today’s aura of pessimism and develop a sense of purpose about changing society’s racial divide,” he said. Children have much to gain by learning about the power of multiple-race friendships, he said. “It’s very important for children to know about what’s possible, who they can become,” he added.

“You can’t fix the racial divide until you create and address the disconnect across races,” added Smith. “Race amity has the power to become a lasting solution.”