© 2020 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Henry Louis Gates Discusses PBS Series 'The African Americans'


Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is perhaps America’s most prominent black history scholar. In the last decade, his genealogical research has been the subject of several PBS specials.

His latest PBS project airs next month. It’s a six-part series called The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (airs Oct. 22 - Nov. 26). Professor Gates will discuss that series Monday evening in a sold out lecture at Charlotte’ s McGlohon Theater. He also spoke to WFAE's Mark Rumsey about the project, and how he thinks America's conversations on race need to change.

"Every time there is a racial tragedy or calamity, people call a conversation on race, they all meet somewhere and talk about it and then join hands and sing 'We Shall Overcome," Gates says. "This is not how you solve racism in America."

Instead, Gates says conversations on race must begin in schools, starting with kindergarten. And he says they need to happen "silently." Gates explains:

"You don't draw attention to it. You make it second nature. You just tell it the way it really was rather than say, 'OK class, this is February, Black History Month, and now we're going to talk about the Africans.' And then, when the end of the month comes, you don't a conversation about it anymore."

Here's Mark Rumsey's interview with Gates that aired on WFAE's All Things Considered:

We Need Your Help Now More Than Ever

WFAE mask

Our newsroom is hard at work covering everything from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to the aftermath of the election, the race for a vaccine and our communities' fight to rebuild. But we can't do it without you. Support our local journalism with a donation of ANY amount, and we’ll send you a free WFAE member mask courtesy of AllDayMask.com of Monroe.