Henry Louis Gates: 35 Million Ways to Be Black (interview)Historians in the News
Nowhere does he do that more than with the vexed issue of race. The 56-year-old Gates is the newly-named Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard, as well as the director of the university's W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. For a decade and a half, ending in 2006, he also headed Harvard's Department of African and African American Studies, assembling what is widely regarded as the world's most distinguished collection of scholars, both black and white, of race relations. The first black person to receive a Ph.D. from Britain's Cambridge University, Gates has an impressive string of scholarly publications to his credit. But, as much as any living American, he is a public intellectual—and intellectual impresario—as well. He has made several series of films for PBS and written a string of profiles for The New Yorker. He is the editor or coeditor of numerous anthologies and of a large encyclopedia, both print and electronic, of African and African American life. He is also a past or present member of everything from the Pulitzer Prize Board to the committee that advises the Postal Service on new stamp designs.
Our conversation takes place in Gates' house, only a few blocks from his Harvard office. Today he is sitting in a recliner, his right leg propped up. It is encased in a strange metal framework whose arms actually penetrate his skin and go into the bone. Over many months, he has adjusted this frame a millimeter or two each day to force his leg bone to grow longer, repairing a childhood touch football injury whose treatment left it two inches too short. When, in West Virginia in the early 1960s, the first doctor to examine the 14-year-old Gates heard him express his ambition (at the time Gates wanted to be a physician), he told Gates' mother the boy was an obviously unbalanced"overachiever"—a code word for a black person who didn't know his place. The doctor misdiagnosed the injury as psychosomatic....
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump Holds Wide Lead in South Carolina
- An All-or-Nothing Fight for the Supreme Court
- Did Trump Really Lose the Debate?
- Scalia’s Death Sets Off Epic Battle
- Democrats See Gift in GOP Blocking Court Nominee
- Quote of the Day
- The Nastiest GOP Debate
- Reaction to the Republican Debate
- The GOP Presidential Debate
- How Clinton Could Respond on Supreme Court Vacancy
- Trump and Clinton Way Ahead in South Carolina
- McConnell Says Senate Will Wait to Replace Scalia
- Antonin Scalia Is Dead
- Clinton Says Sanders Would Be Threat to Obama Legacy
- Internal Tracker Shows Trump Leading in South Carolina
- Ben Carson used an apparently fake Joseph Stalin quote — and the Internet loved it
- Rubio exaggerates in saying it's been 80 years since a 'lame duck' made a Supreme Court nomination
- Humans Hard-Wired to Teach, Anthropologist Says
- Parents outraged after students shown ‘white guilt’ cartoon for Black History Month
- Maryland is once again considering retiring its state song
- Historian at the center of Sanders-Clinton debate
- James Loewen Says Additional Baltimore Confederate Statues Should be Removed
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- A historian’s advice to students thinking of getting a PhD in a tough economic climate
- German historian Heinz Richter cleared of charges