William Brown managed to get across the river safely, finding work in a small rural Illinois community close to the state’s border with Indiana. He would have known of the new anti-immigration laws, but must have been willing to risk breaking them for a better life. But a sheriff named John Watts soon arrested Mr. Brown for making his illegal crossing. When Mr. Brown could not pay the $50 fine the State of Illinois required of him, Sheriff Watts put him in chains on the Lawrence County courthouse steps and tried to sell him at auction to the...
On Jan. 6, 1961, U.S District Court Judge W. A. Bootle ordered the immediate admission of two black students to the University of Georgia, ending 160 years of segregation at the school. Henry Louis Gates Jr., now the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, was 10 years old when he saw the event play out on television.
"In terms of representation and volume, we have to work on both fronts," says Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and board member of the Whitney Museum of Art. "The Whitney is never going to have only black art in it or the Met. For American culture to be represented, it must be integrated."
America’s museums are more than repositories of ancient Greek statues and Renaissance paintings. They are guardians of a fading social and demographic order. On Thursday, Warren Kanders resigned from the board of the Whitney Museum of Art, after protests over his company’s sale of tear gas grenades that were reportedly used on asylum seekers. His case reveals the extent to which museums have become contested spaces in a rapidly-changing country.
If not for a dinner in 1973, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., might today be summering on the Vineyard as a top doctor or prominent attorney, instead of a leading scholar of African American history and culture who’s also an award-winning documentary broadcaster.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision refusing to interfere with extreme partisan gerrymandering not only seriously undermines our already fragile democracy; it also brings to mind the Court’s acquiescence over a century ago in laws that denied the right to vote to millions of black Southerners. In particular, it is reminiscent of the Court’s 1903 ruling in Giles v. Harris, a largely forgotten case in which the justices, as today, claimed they were not authorized to adjudicate “political” matters.
[W]hen Henry Louis Gates Jr. works with guests on the acclaimed PBS program “Finding Your Roots” whose family stories have been obscured by slavery, he routinely looks for clues in Emory University’s “Slave Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database.”
Those who boarded slave ships from the Bight of Benin, or the Slave Coast of Africa, lost more than their homes—they lost their identities. New maps of a former kingdom made by a University of Colorado Boulder professor, though, may help shed some light on the centuries-old question of where they came from.