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 Henry Gates' discourse on African-American socio-cultural and political patterns exhibits

a thoroughly chameleon trait an almost manic need to produce a discourse on

Black realities that migrates between a  "Black put down" or "Black averse" mode

 

 

Books by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

 

Colored People Our Nig / The African American Century The Bondwoman's Narrative  / Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man

 

The Trials of Phillis Wheatley "Race," Writing, and Difference  / Wonders of the African World

 

In Search of Identity  /  Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex  /  The Signifying Monkey

 

Cosmopolitanism / Identity and Violence / The Norton Anthology of African American Literature

 

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Books by Martin Kilson

 

Apropos of Africa The African Diaspora New States in the Modern World  / Political Change in a West African State

 

History as Guide   / Africa (Seen) from the Viewpoint of  American Negro Scholars / Political Awakening of Africa

 

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Master of the Intellectual Dodge

A Reply to Henry Louis Gates

 By Martin Kilson

Frank G. Thomson Research Professor Harvard University

 

(These Comments Are In  Response To Henry Gates' Rebuttal of Professor Ali Mazuri's Critique Of Gates' Film Series "Wonders of The African World") Gates' Reply Was Put On Internet Nov. 12th, 1999.

As far as I am able to determine, none of the African-American Intellectuals here at Harvard University has contributed thus far to the very important discussion indeed firestorm around my colleague Henry Louis Gates' film series, "Wonders of the African World." I am now on the elderly side of the African-American faculty around Harvard these days (I formally retired as of Spring Term 1999 at 68 years of age) and I was expecting someone among the younger age-cohort of progressive Black intellectuals here at Harvard to join the ranks of Black intellectuals who have rightly challenged the

intellectually atrocious film series that Henry Gates has served up for  American viewers for White viewers mainly I think. Among the younger age cohort of progressive Black intellectuals at Harvard whom I thought would  join this discussion were the following: Christopher Edley and Lani Guinier in the Law School; Cornel West in Theology/Afro-American Studies; Loran  Matory in Anthropology/Afro-American Studies; Larry Bobo in Sociology; and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham in History/Afro-American Studies. So the absence so far of any participant from my Black colleagues here at Harvard in critiquing Gates' intellectually shameful film series, has partly sparked my decision to join this criticism.

But it was especially Henry Gates' response to his critics especially to Professor Ali Mazuri-that really pushed me over the edge, so to speak; that fired me up enough to join the discussion.  I've known Henry Gates as an academic colleague quite well during the past decade of his tenure here at Harvard. I was part of the Afro-American Studies Appointments Committee that selected him in fact. I had a good collegial academic

relationship with Henry Gates up to about 1995/1996 academic year, at which point I decided to probe Gates' particular style and modus operandi as a Black academic entrepreneur intellectual , in context of forerunner Black academic entrepreneur intellectuals like the Sociologist Charles Spurgeon Johnson and the Historian Carter G. Woodson both of whom I worship. My probe of Gates was for a chapter in an ongoing three volume study of the 20th century African-American Intelligentsia.

My study is titled THE MAKING OF BLACK INTELLECTUALS: STUDIES ON THE AFRICAN AMERICAN INTELLIGENTSIA, Volume I of which might get published by late 2000.The chapters in the three volume manuscript (now nearly all written after 25 years or so in the making) comprise mainly case study probes of the intellectual careers of specific individuals (Horace Mann Bond, John Aubrey Davis, Ralph J. Bunche. Martin Kilson--myself that is); case study Probes of Black political class professionals (Adam Clayton Powell, Gen. Colin Powell); and case study probes of intellectual discourse produced by a Given Black intellectual which make up the majority of the chapters in the Three volumes (e.g., Harold Cruse, E. Franklin Frazier, Carter G. Woodson , Ira Reid, Ida Wells Barnett, St. Clair Drake, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Orlando Patterson et. al. - the latter two are part of an extended dissection and probe of contemporary Black establishmentarian and conservative intellectuals in Volume II and Volume III).

My chapter on Henry Gates deals with his intellectual discourse over the past decade or so. As I searched the numerous articles he has published (including his memoir COLORED PEOPLE) dealing with the character of African-American social, cultural and political patterns, I discovered two things that I disliked about Gates' intellectual discourse. One was an almost neurotic need to couch discourse on African-American socio-cultural and political patterns in what I call "Black put-down terms," a mode of intellectual discourse on  Black realities that Gates' intellectual confrere Kwame Anthony Appiah is also addicted to, I should add. Second, much of Henry Gates' discourse on African-American socio-cultural and political patterns exhibits a thoroughly chameleon trait an almost manic need to produce a discourse on Black realities that migrates between a  "Black put down" or "Black averse" mode, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a seemingly redeeming "Black friendly" mode, though in ultimate essence the redeeming posture is phony.

This chameleon trait so fundamental I think to Henry Gates as an Intellectual stood out as I read his reply to Professor Ali Mazuri's fully valid critique of Gates' film series "Wonders of the African World." The overall character of Gates' reply is one of "an intellectual dodge." By which I mean, a clever bid to translate the overwhelming negatives of his film series into intellectual positives. By "overwhelming negatives",

I refer to 1) the numerous intellectually convoluted or twisted put downs of African realities in the film series, and 2) the Eurocentric derived irreverent posturings toward African realities by Henry Gates, even while simultaneously characterizing a given African reality as positive, as "an African Wonder." As Ali Mazuri rightly put it: "Gates seemed incapable of glorifying  Africa without demonizing it in the second breath."

Henry Gates' reply to Professor Ali Mazuri's valid critique of "Wonders Of the African World" is, then, a premier example of discourse as an intellectual dodge, something Gates is quite adept at, I suggest. Henry Gates paints several self-serving images of himself seemingly objectively rendered and weaves betwixt and-between them, straining, for what might be called a self-portraiture crescendo to hook his readers on. But don't be caught by any of it, snared in Gates' self-portraiture trap so to speak.

For starters, Henry Gates would have his readers believe that an academic year spent in the village society of one of the few genuinely progressive African states in the early 1970s Tanzania translated automatically into a socialist friendly demeanor on his part. Gates would have us believe, furthermore, that courses taken at the University of Cambridge by him in the 1970s under a genuinely progressive African intellectual like Wole Soyinka also automatically translated into a progressive friendly demeanor on Gates' part. But don't you believe it. Henry Gates' intellectual arrogance is such that he thinks he can get people to believe just about anything. With this verbal trickery, then, Gates is pretending a kind of "progressivism by association syndrome," so to speak. But what has been unique about Wole Soyinka whom Gates parades around in his speaking and writing as his African intellectual mentor is precisely Soyinka's lack of verbal trickery.

For Gates, however, verbal trickery is his stock in trade. During the past 30 years of predatory and kleptocratic governing classes in most African states including especially Soyinka's own country of Nigeria, Wole Soyinka has exhibited a courageous and rare commitment to a Progressive African intellectual identity. The kind I wish I could live up to if required. The kind that the great Frantz Fanon and the great Camara Laye (in Sekou Toure's Guinea) represented in their intellectual careers. The kind, that is, that dares to critique and challenge what's vicious, venal, and predatory among one's own natal cultural and political milieu one's own ethnic/tribal and nation state milieu that is and thereby run the clear risk of autocratic and cruel retaliation that has been a built in component most independent African states over the past 30 years.  It takes a special

kind of intellectual gall and chutzpah-as well as an incredible capacity for intellectual fantasy for a Henry Gates to portray himself at intellectual parity with Wole Soyinka . Such self-portrayal by Gates is not just an historical travesty, but just plain laughable, I submit.  I hope Wole Soyinka is aware of how his name is being manipulated by Henry Gates.

What is more, note that Gates does this with the use of what he thinks is a hip term -"tough love."  I seriously doubt that in articulating the proposition that "Criticism, like charity, starts at home," Soyinka was trying to teach what Gates characterizes as a "tough love" lesson to his Nigerian intellectual colleagues who were more reluctant to challenge

authoritarian regimes in their country. Put another way, Soyinka was not beating his chest in public around attributes of his own genuinely progressive intellectual makeup, he was not showing off with his political discourse that is-something Henry Gates is manicly addicted to, I think. Though Henry Gates is not aware of it, "tough love" is a lightweight pop journalistic term that tells us nothing about a genuinely courageous and independent progressive African intellectual like Wole Soyinka.

On the other hand, however, "tough love" has much utility for Henry Gates' perpetual bid to cloak his penchant for what I call Black put down discourse in seemingly high minded language like "tough love." In doing so, Gates aims to deflect attention from the true goal that his Black put down discourse serves-namely, the establishmentarian and

conservative patterns in contemporary American society, and globally too. In putting "tough love" into Soyinka's mouth, Henry Gates is, above all, trying to play back his way to a special public self-portraiture-one he consider politically serviceable.

At bottom, Henry Gates' myopia regarding his own self-importance can be viewed as the main source of both the filmic failure of "'Wonders of the African World" and the intellectually tacky Black put down aura that pervades it-an aura that bespeaks the film series' politics, actually.

What else can explain the absence of a serious didactic format for the narration of the series a formalized instructional design or format for conveying to American viewers a serious quantum of substantive information about African History and Culture? What else can explain the unbelievably arrogant irreverence that Henry Gates exhibited at so many levels in the series?  The irreverence associated with wearing the lounge attire Found in bourgeois quarters of our American suburbs when visiting traditional sanctuaries of the Ethiopian Coptic Church, for example.

The irreverence associated with snide comments about the historical authenticity of the Coptic Church's claim of possessing the Ark, and the related irreverence associated with Gates' posturing about climbing the gate to the hallowed site where the Ark is located. Henry Gates wouldn't dare behave with such flippant and infantile irreverence in a comparable visit to a traditional sanctuary of Judaism in Israel, of the Church of England, of the Holy See In Rome, or anywhere else in the West. He wouldn't dare, I assure you....This kind of behavior by Henry Gates is reserved only for Black world realities! And that Gates can quote to his readers a fawning comment on "Wonders of the African World" by the current governing class in Ethiopia as a serious rebuttal of the charge by Mazuri and others that his demeanor as interviewer was irreverent toward traditional sanctuaries of African civilization is another dimension of Gates' myopic self importance.

His chutzpah too.

Above all, the irreverence associated with Henry Gates' characterization of the historical dynamics of the Atlantic Slave Trade-the man's lack of simple decency of spirit toward that devastating historical trauma visited upon Black people in the tens of millions by capitalist Christendom at its crudest-struck me as the foulest of all. If American viewers-White Americans especially-were relying upon Henry Gates' "Wonders of the African World" for a chance to finally come-to grips with the raw cultural barbarity of the Atlantic Slave Trade that our own component of the capitalist Christian state system helped to perpetrate against African peoples, their disappointment must have been gigantic.

Or perhaps not., for what Henry Gates dished up in his film series was a characterization that enabled many of our White American compatriots to persist in their longstanding, arrogant, and stubborn condition of moral denial-denial of systemic collaboration in and much responsibility for what can only be called the "Black Holocaust." Like Ali Mazuri and other critics of "Wonders of the African World," I was aghast at Henry Gates' Indecent verbal maneuvers in his interviews relating to the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Verbal maneuvers that emphasized almost solely the role of African errand boys for European dominance (African slave raiders, predatory African traditional chiefs and kings and religious authorities, etc.) in fostering the Atlantic Slave Trade. As Blackworld scholars for a century now-from the great W.E.B.Du Bois (the research institute Gates directs at Harvard bears his name) to the late Trinidad scholar Eric Williams and the late

Nigerian scholar and dear friend of mine Kenneth 0. Dike - have uncovered along with the White scholars, the Atlantic Slave Trade stemmed overwhelmingly from the military, naval technological prowess, and political economic prowess of Europe vis a vis African peoples and other world peoples too, Regardless of what African errand boys (or. as the case may be, Chinese errand boys in the East Asia context, Arab errand boys in the Middle East context, so forth and so on) did or did not do.

As Ali Mazuri rightly characterized this part of Henry Gates' series: "Gates manages to make an African to say that without the participation of Africans there would have been no slave trade! How naive about power can we get?"  Indeed. Just the slightest glance at instances in ancient and medieval history of imperial and feudalistic predatory state societies (or just a visit to the movie "Brave Hearts") would inform Henry Gates about the comparative history of slaving dynamics. Those dynamics were overwhelmingly power class dynamics, with vicious and predatory power classes among vanquished societies typically preferring power benefits from participation in imperially imposed slaving dynamics over loyalty to their natal cultural/political unit (the tribe, province, region, etc.).

But this historical ignorance on Henry Gates' part in regard to the comparative history of slaving systems is only part of Gates' problem-his "Black problem", if you will. At the core of Henry Gates' insensitivity toward the massive historical trauma for the everyday oppressed and violated African persons (children, women, and men) in the long night of

The Atlantic Slave Trade is Gates' deep personality need to participate in contemporary establishmentarian and conservative put down discourse toward Black world realities.

And, as already noted, for Henry Gates this is always a chameleon choreographed Black put down modality, which can find him at one time both putting down Blackness and pretending to affirm Blackness too. But Henry Gates knows well that the American establishment, in its several formations, gets the message of his intellectual maneuvers. And I'm sure it does. One last theme relating to Henry Gates' intellectual persona requires mentioning. Gates makes a major effort to rebut Ali Mazuri's charge that "Wonders of the African World" series does not make rigorous use of authoritative scholars that one expects from a serious documentary film.

Gates gets around this criticism from Mazuri partly by claiming that his film was not quite a documentary but rather "was framed as a travelogue which allowed me to show both the diversity of the vast African continent and the African peoples themselves." This is bunkum, I submit. The best travelogues are anchored by a keen and careful documentary type infrastructure, which means they seek to have a serious didactic thrust, and such a thrust implies leaning on serious authoritative advice.

Of course, Henry Gates lined up a show list of official authoritative advisers for his series as he eagerly points out in last section of his reply to Professor Mazuri. Gates is too shrewd an academic entrepreneur intellectual not to protect himself on this flank, need I add. But lining up authoritative advisers is one thing; honestly and effectively employing their advice and knowledge is quite another matter altogether. A matter I think that was of very little interest to Henry Gates when making "Wonders of the African World."

As I started off these comments, I've known Henry Gates for a decade and I can say that I watched and probed his "MO"  as much as any of his Harvard colleagues have. At the center of Gates' "MO" is a convoluted autocratic component, and at the level of his academic/administrative functioning that autocratic component of Gates' persona is never far from the surface. I speak from institutional experience in this matter of Henry Gates' autocratic trait, for throughout his decade presence at Harvard I (along with Professor Preston Williams-Divinity School-Professor Charles Willie-School of Education-Professor Peter Gomes-Divinity School-Professor Werner Sollors Comparative Literature -and Several others) have been on the Advisory Board of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. Like the advisory boards of other research institutes or centers at Harvard, the presumption is that the chair or director of such centers will confer with such boards through maybe two meetings a semester-depending upon relevant situations and sometimes more frequently.

If I recall correctly, the Du Bois Institute Advisory board was convened twice a year during Gates' first year, once a year during the following two years (at which meetings Gates presented a self-serving balance sheet of his achievements), and  since then the Advisory Board of the DuBois Institute has not been convened-a period of about six years!!

All decisions from the character of the Institute's funding, choice of lecturers for lecture series like the Du Bois Lecture and the Nathan Huggins Lecture, etc. demanate from the very wise head of Henry Louis Gates. A couple of Advisory Board members have discussed Gates' tacky autocratic "MO" within the affairs of the Du Bois Institute among ourselves, but none of us has ever moved in any substantive way to redress this Gatesian autocracy, and I don't even think any of us knows what the formal Harvard rules are (if there are any) for redressing this Gatesian autocracy. I have personally queried Henry Gates regarding the state of the Dubois Institute's Advisory Board (I queried Gates quite candidly on many other issues too) a state of affairs that is an insult to the members of the Advisory Board. I can report that Henry Gates could care less.

There is also another dimension to my skepticism that Henry Gates made any serious use of his show list of authoritative advisors for his film series. My Du Bois Institute experience with Gatesian autocracy led me, a couple of years ago, to decline several persistent requests from Henry Gates to join the Advisory Board of the proprietary structure that he formed to produce the Microsoft ENCARTA CDROM on Black History and the hard copy ENCYCLOPEDIA AFRICANA version, recently out from Basic Books. Henry Gates and Kwame Anthony Appiah transformed the original plans that the late Professor Nathan Huggins created to produce the ENCYCLOPEDIA AFRICANA from the academic realm of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute to a privatistic structure-a private firm, 20 if you will, headed by Gates and Appiah as sole proprietors .

I queried around about whether this was officially kosher, this transforming a Professor Huggins' designed research project within the academic realm of the Harvard DuBois Institute into a proprietary structure. I did so in an informal way I might add, dropping notes on the matter to my longstanding friend Archie Epps (who was Dean of Students-the first African-American Administrator in Harvard College) and to one of my progressive Harvard academic colleagues who happened to be a part of the Afro-American Studies faculty, Professor Cornel West. Epps said that he didn't know what the formal Harvard rules were, so I told Epps that I wasn't that concerned about the matter, so he need not inquire any further.

My progressive academic colleague Cornel West never got back to me about the matter at all, as I recall. As I told both Epps and West in my notes to them, it was my simple minded understanding that a project conceived as Professor Huggins conceived the ENCYCLOPEDIA AFRICANA project to be a research production of the Du Bois Institute, ought to remain an Institute affair in substance whatever privatistic choreographing might be done to it. So whatever financial benefits that resulted from the end product of Professor Huggins' ENCYCLOPEDIA AFRICANA project (such as the Microsoft ENCARTA CD-ROM on Black History and the hard copy version) ought to become part of the research funds or endowment of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute which God knows deserves serious financial endowment after nearly 30 years existence.

For me anyway, this is the only academically honorable thing to do in this kind of situation. One should not cynically pursue one's own self serving and money enhancing agenda as a scholar, which is what the privatistic arrangement set up in regard to Professor Huggins' original plans for the ENCYCLOPEDIA AFRICANA project By Henry Gates and Kwame Anthony Appiah looks like to me. But maybe I'm just a naive old fashioned academic in these matters, I suspect. Thus, I want to conclude these critical reflections on Henry Gates' film series - "Wonders of the African World"- and on the intellectually convoluted character of Henry Gates himself with some thoughts on the future interaction between progressive African-American intellectuals, on the one hand, and the establishmentarian and politically cagey Henry Gates on the other hand.

First of all, there should be no doubt among progressive African-American intellectuals that Henry Gates as the leading African-American academic entrepreneur intellectual in the country these days has an intellectual persona and modus operandi vis a vis Black

world realities that is riddled through with establishmentarian and sometimes anti-Black purposes. Henry Gates, therefore, warrants much more scrutiny by progressive African-American intellectuals than he has received to date. Happily for us in this regard, Henry Gates has unwittingly helped us with the intellectually tacky and arrogant Black put down aura that pervades his BBC/PBS film series.

However, to be effective in the important task of scrutinizing an Incredibly cagey academic entrepreneur intellectual like Henry Gates requires, I think, any progressive Black intellectual to keep a kind of respectful distance from the chap. Why? Because Henry Gates is not only a master of the intellectual dodge as I have tried to delineate in these comments. Henry Gates is also a masterful manipulator of strategic goodies at his disposal as a Black academic entrepreneur. I suppose that's how Gates maneuvered my old friend Professor Ali Mazuri to pen a friendly blurb for the coffee table book version of "Wonders of the African World." I say this because when the secretary at the DuBois Institute mailed notices to Advisory Board members regarding the lecturers for the Nathan Huggins Lecture Series always selected solely from the wise head of Henry Gates by the wav, since the Advisory Board is operationally superfluous-I discovered that on the List of future lecturers was Professor Ali Mazuri (November 2000 1 think).

To perform the much needed task of intellectually scrutinizing a cagey and politically opportunistic academic entrepreneur American intellectual like Henry Gates (or, say, like Professor Samuel Huntington who's in International Studies here at Harvard and others like this at Harvard and other universities around the country) , it is best for anyone who is a progressive intellectual and scholar to keep a respectful distance visa versa resources (goodies) at Gates' disposal. Even rather simple ones like invitations to strategic dinners at his house. For Henry Gates anyway they're his fish hooks, so to speak. And he has snared a lot of strategically useful fish I might add, some who could otherwise contribute to the important task of intellectually scrutinizing the latter day Booker T. Washington accommodationism dimension of Henry Gates' intellectual persona.

Remember that it is not easy to "drink the King's wine and challenge the King too...."

For me anyway, this is not an easy issue even though I Know that there are times when "the King" must be challenged, whether one sups his table or not. So for myself here at Harvard University during the past decade of Henry Gates' tenure here, I've kept a respectful distance from Henry Gates' goodies in order to reserve my independence of action. Luckily for me of course, my academic appointment needs and resources, here at Harvard have not overlapped with "King Gates", unlike the situation for other African-American faculty here whose appointment Henry Gates had a hand in-such as Professor William Wilson--and thus who are inclined to be rather discreet in their interactions with "King Gates."

I have no such dependence ties to "King  Gates." So when there was one instance in the past decade when my resource needs relating to a Fiftieth Anniversary Conference on Gunnar Myrdal's "An American Dilemma" that I conceived and mainly organized (with marvelous assistance from Dr. Randall Burkett then associate administrator at the DuBois Institute but who was later unceremoniously dismissed by Henry Gates) became

something of an issue between me and Henry Gates, I let Gates know that I was willing to do battle if necessary. One should never act weak in the midst of Gatesian autocracy, or any autocracy for that matter. Wole Soyinka has taught us that nobly.

Not, of course, in the pop journalistic way that Henry Gates characterizes Soyinka's intellectual courage so as the advance Gates' own phony public self portraiture.

So I try to advise my progressive Black intellectual peers especially to be wary of "King Gates" strategic offerings his fish hooks, if at all possible. And I'd like to address this especially to the up coming younger generation of African-American intellectuals and scholars, particularly those who seek to fashion a progressive outlook for themselves. Finally, we progressive Black intellectuals especially do indeed have to perform the scrutinizing task in regard to establishmentarian and/or conservative Black intellectuals like Henry Gates, because no one else will. Above all, we progressive Black intellectuals still have a serious Black people agenda to attend to. Namely: Protecting, advancing, and redeeming Black folks' honor, both here in the United States and elsewhere in the globe.

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Harvard University’s Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government Emeritus, Dr. Martin L. Kilson, Jr. bears his professional prominence very easily, descending from three generations of clergy with skills of persuasion, presentation and organization. Before the Civil War, his great-great-grandfather, The Reverend Isaac Lee, founded the first A.M.E. church among free Negroes in Kent County, Maryland.  Dr. Kilson’s maternal great-grandfather was also among the founders of a church. . . . Dr. Kilson rose through the ranks to become the first African American scholar to achieve a Full Professorship in Harvard College, where he taught for forty-two years before retiring in 1999. . . .

Kilson is co-author of Key Issues in the Afro-American Experience BlackPast

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Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., Ph.D. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor and public intellectual. He was the first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his teaching, research, and development of academic institutions to study black culture. In 2002, Gates was selected to give the Jefferson Lecture, in recognition of his "distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities." The lecture resulted in his 2003 book, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley.

As the host of the 2006 and 2008 PBS television miniseries African American Lives, Gates explored the genealogy of prominent African Americans. Gates sits on the boards of many notable arts, cultural, and research institutions. He serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Michael Kinsley referred to him as "the nation's most famous black scholar."[1] However he is criticized as non-representative of Black people by prominent African-American scholars such as Molefi Asante, John Henrik Clarke, and Maulana Karenga. . . .

On July 16, 2009, Gates returned home from a trip to China to find the door to his house jammed. His driver attempted to help him gain entrance. A passer-by called police reporting a possible break-in and a Cambridge police officer was dispatched. The resulting confrontation resulted in Gates being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.The incident spurred a politically charged exchange of views about race relations and law enforcement throughout the United States. The arrest garnered national attention after the President declared that the police "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates. The President eventually extended an invitation to both Gates and the officer involved to share a beer with him at the White House.[24]

On March 9, 2010, Gates claimed on the Oprah Winfrey Show that he and Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer in the Cambridge incident, share a common ancestor.Wikipedia

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Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on DVD

 

DVD Description of  America beyond the Color Line

Henry Louis Gates Jr. travels the length and breadth of the United States to take the temperature of black America at the start of the new century. Gates visits the East Coast, the deep South, inner-city Chicago and Hollywood to explore the rich and diverse landscape, social as well as geographic.

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DVD Description of African American Lives


Renowned scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., W.E.B. DuBois professor of the Humanities and chair of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, takes Alex Haley’s Roots saga to a whole new level. Using genealogy and DNA science, Dr. Gates tells the personal stories of eight accomplished African Americans, tracing their roots through American history and back to Africa. Participants include Dr. Ben Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Dr. Mae Jemison, Quincy Jones, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Chris Tucker and Oprah Winfrey.

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DVD Description of  Wonders of the African World

Africa is a continent of magnificent treasures and cultures--from the breathtaking stone architecture of 1,000-year-old ruins in South Africa to an advanced 16th century international university in Timbuktu. However, for centuries, many of these African wonders have been hidden from the world, lost to the ravages of time, nature and repressive governments. Uncover the richness of these African Wonders with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as he explores the many cultures, traditions and history of the African continent.

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In Search of Our Roots:

How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past”

 By Henry Louis Gates J

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Remarks by the President and the First Lady at Presentation of the National Medal of the Arts and the National Humanities medal.—November 5, 1998—THE PRESIDENT: Near the beginning of this century, W. E. B. Du Bois predicted a "black tomorrow" of African American achievement. Thanks in large measure to Henry Louis Gates, that tomorrow has turned into today. For 20 years he has revitalized African American studies. In his writing and teaching, through his leadership of the Dream Team of African American scholars he brought together at Harvard, Gates has shed brilliant light on authors and traditions kept in the shadows for too long. From "signifying monkeys" to small-town West Virginia, from ancient Africa to the new New York, Skip Gates has described the American experience with force, with dignity and, most of all, with color. Ladies and gentlemen, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Applause.) The Medal is presented.)—clinton6

The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (1989)
Colored People: A Memoir (1994, memoir)

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Wake Up Everybody—Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (1975)

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Ratification

The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). —Booklist

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Lincoln on Race and Slavery

Edited By Henry Louis Gates and Donald Yacovone

Generations of Americans have debated the meaning of Abraham Lincoln's views on race and slavery. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation and supported a constitutional amendment to outlaw slavery, yet he also harbored grave doubts about the intellectual capacity of African Americans, publicly used the n-word until at least 1862, and favored permanent racial segregation. In this book—the first complete collection of Lincoln's important writings on both race and slaveryreaders can explore these contradictions through Lincoln's own words. Acclaimed Harvard scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr., presents the full range of Lincoln's views, gathered from his private letters, speeches, official documents, and even race jokes, arranged chronologically from the late 1830s to the 1860s.

Complete with definitive texts, rich historical notes, and an original introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this book charts the progress of a war within Lincoln himself. We witness his struggles with conflicting aims and ideas—a hatred of slavery and a belief in the political equality of all men, but also anti-black prejudices and a determination to preserve the Union even at the cost of preserving slavery. We also watch the evolution of his racial views, especially in reaction to the heroic fighting of black Union troops.

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Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000

By Adam Fairclough

Better Day Coming is intended, in author Adam Fairclough's words, as "neither a textbook nor a survey, but an interpretation" (p. xiv) of the circuitous struggle for racial equality pursued by African Americans and their occasional allies between 1890 and 2000. Chronologically organized, the narrative moves from an evaluation of the hard-pressed, contending forces vying for ascendancy in the black South at the nadir to the interwar period and well beyond, into the urban cauldron of the northern ghettoes at the high point of the Black Power movement. Fairclough brings to his project a fluent understanding of the shifting institutional configurations of opposition to Jim Crow and a keen sensitivity to the ways in which the efforts of those who fought it were hampered, circumscribed, and occasionally crushed by the pressures of operating in a society formally committed—for most of the period under discussion—to aggressive defense of the racial status quo.

Fairclough's "basic argument" seems at first glance uncontroversial: that "although blacks differed . . . about the most appropriate tactics in the struggle for equality, they were united in rejecting allegations of racial inferiority and in aspiring to a society where men and women would be judged on merit rather than by race or color" (p. xii). But his ultimate aim is more ambitious: he sets out to rehabilitate the accommodationist tradition represented by Booker T. Washington which, though "apparently unheroic," in the author's view "laid the groundwork for the militant confrontation of the Civil Rights Movement" (p. xiii).—h-net

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent

U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Related files:  Noise of Class Ideology  Responses to Skip Gates'   The Talented Fifth   Master of the Intellectual Dodge   Gates the Birth Encarta Africana 

The Fire Last Time   Cleaver and Gates  Lincoln on Race and Slavery   Skip Gates and the Talented Fifth  Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man