Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. has new The Root column





Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, and winner of innumerable awards (including a MacArthur genius grant), has a new weekly blog, "100 Amazing Facts about the Negro," at The Root, where he also serves as editor-in-chief. The blog is inspired by a 1934 pamphlet by pioneering African American journalist. The blog series uses commonly-asked questions about black history -- "who was the first black president in North America?" (Hint: He predated Barack Obama by 179 years) or
"what was North America's first black town?" as a jumping-off point for a detailed meditation on broader currents in African American (broadly defined as the history of Africans in all of the Americas) history, and the incredible diversity of African Americans. The blog will continue throughout the next year in advance of Gates's forthcoming PBS series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

As Gates wrote in his introductory post:

The more I research the history of African Americans' ancestors in this country, the more astonished I am by two seemingly contradictory things: First, how people from as many as 50 ethnic groups were plucked from West and West-Central Africa and then dispersed as property throughout the American slave community, North and South, and then with noble heroism and courage, determination and pure grit and great collective will, created one of the world's truly great cultures; and second, at the extent of these same people's surprising, often counterintuitive opinions within the race, as well as their widely varied beliefs and disagreements and debates, over just about every aspect of politics, culture, strategy, religion -- you name it.


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