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Henry Louis Gates Jr.


  • Originally published 08/05/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: What Was the Tulsa Race Riot?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.In last week's column on the Colfax Massacre of 1873, I closed with a reference to Barack Obama's July 19 discussion of Trayvon Martin and the "set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away." Speaking from the White House as president and as a man from within that veil of "experiences," he explained, "There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often."

  • Originally published 07/29/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: What Was the Colfax Massacre?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: Did African-American Slaves Rebel?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter. One of the most pernicious allegations made against the African-American people was that our slave ancestors were either exceptionally "docile" or "content and loyal," thus explaining their purported failure to rebel extensively. Some even compare enslaved Americans to their brothers and sisters in Brazil, Cuba, Suriname and Haiti, the last of whom defeated the most powerful army in the world, Napoleon's army, becoming the first slaves in history to successfully strike a blow for their own freedom.

  • Originally published 03/11/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: How Did Harriet Tubman Become a Legend?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter. In 1849, a young woman hurried along a path cutting through a marsh in Poplar Neck, Md., near the town of Preston. She was a slave, barely 5 feet tall. She was scarred from several beatings.  She alternated between walking and running, like thousands of other slaves had before her, desperately hoping to cross the Mason-Dixon Line to the get to the North, to freedom in Philadelphia. With a great deal of luck and skill, she made it. And what did she do once she was free? Unlike virtually any other person before her or after, this fugitive slave turned around and walked back into slavery, counterintuitively, in order to free other slaves. And for this, she would become a legend. 

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: What Was the 2nd Middle Passage?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root.(The Root) -- 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 16: What was the second Middle Passage?Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by David Eltis and David Richardson, we know that about 388,000 Africans were transported directly to the United States over the course of the slave trade, which ended officially in 1808. This brutally cruel and disruptive phase of the trade, as all American schoolchildren should be taught, is known as "the Middle Passage." But what is often left out of many survey courses is the second Middle Passage, and that dark chapter in American history involved far more black people than were taken from Africa to the United States. It was also uniquely cruel and brutally destructive. And it unfolded during the era when cotton was "king."

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