Harvard professor/TV host and author Henry Louis Gates, Jr. isn’t playing when it comes to Black History Month. And you shouldn’t be either, because there is truth to the saying “A people who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.” Gates’ latest project, Many Rivers to Cross the 6-part series that aired on public television last fall, is now out on DVD and yes, you should probably pick it up.
“For Tom Joyner and the Tom Joyner Morning Show, every day is Black History Month,” Gates says to the TJMS crew this morning. “You’ve inspired me from the time we did that Black History book for McDonald’s back in the day. I realize that I had to be part of translating what the most brilliant scholars do to make it accessible for everyday people from kids in the first grade to everyday middle class people, too.”
The series covers many little-known Black History moments including things like the Detroit riots and of course, the slave trade, but this time from the perspective of the Africans who sold their own people.
“One of the reasons for the Detroit riots (of 1943) was about Black people competing for the first time in the automobile industry, which during the war became the defense industry, for jobs with White people. And it drove white people crazy. One of the reasons that we put it in there is that so much that we think of as racial animosity really has an economic basis. If you think about slavery, race has been a metaphor for economic exploitation all along and even to this day.”