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The Root


  • Originally published 08/05/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: What Was the Tulsa Race Riot?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.In last week's column on the Colfax Massacre of 1873, I closed with a reference to Barack Obama's July 19 discussion of Trayvon Martin and the "set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away." Speaking from the White House as president and as a man from within that veil of "experiences," he explained, "There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often."

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Rand Paul aide with racist past resigns

    (The Root) -- Jack Hunter, the controversial aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has resigned nearly two weeks after his previous ties to a white separatist group were revealed. Hunter announced his resignation in an email to the conservative news site the Daily Caller.He expressed embarrassment for some of his previous racially inflammatory behavior, although he stopped short of acknowledging it as racist. His email read in part:I've long been a conservative, and years ago, a much more politically incorrect (and campy) one. But there's a significant difference between being politically incorrect and racist. I've also become far more libertarian over the years, a philosophy that encourages a more tolerant worldview, through the lens of which I now look back on some of my older comments with embarrassment....

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Peniel E. Joseph: Trayvon, Race and American Democracy

    Peniel E. Joseph is founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and a professor of history at Tufts University. He is also the Caperton Fellow for the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. He is the author of Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama. His biography of Stokely Carmichael will be published next year by Basic Books. He can be reached online at penielejoseph.com. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Keli Goff: Do We Need Any More Clintons or Bushes?

    Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.(The Root) -- Largely overlooked amid the wall-to-wall coverage of the Boston terror attacks was some intriguing and potentially important political news. Former President George W. Bush weighed in on speculation regarding his brother former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's presidential prospects, saying that he hopes his sibling runs for the nation's highest office in 2016.If Bush runs, it is unlikely that he will be the only familiar name on the ballot. It is widely believed that former first lady-turned-Senator-turned-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also run. This means that regardless of political party, the White House could soon be occupied by a familiar name and family. 2016 might just end up feeling a bit like a flashback from A Christmas Carol -- except, instead of all of us taking a stroll down memory lane to revisit Christmases past, we'll be visiting elections past.Here's a question for American voters: Are political dynasties actually good for America? 

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: Did African-American Slaves Rebel?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter. One of the most pernicious allegations made against the African-American people was that our slave ancestors were either exceptionally "docile" or "content and loyal," thus explaining their purported failure to rebel extensively. Some even compare enslaved Americans to their brothers and sisters in Brazil, Cuba, Suriname and Haiti, the last of whom defeated the most powerful army in the world, Napoleon's army, becoming the first slaves in history to successfully strike a blow for their own freedom.

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Joseph Harker: How a Black Briton's Murder Led to Change

    Joseph Harker is assistant comment editor at the Guardian newspaper and a former editor of Black Briton newspaper. Follow him on Twitter.(The Root) -- Exactly 20 years ago today, Stephen Lawrence woke up like a typical 18-year-old student. Studying technology and physics, he was hoping to go to college later that year to realize his dream of becoming an architect.By the end of the day he was dead, stabbed to death by a gang of white racists as he waited by a bus stop near his home in southeast London. But his story lives on: His tragic killing on April 22, 1993, and its aftermath, captured the attention of the nation and had a huge impact on policing, race relations and the country's biggest institutions and corporations.Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen, like any grieving family, wanted justice. The police, it seemed, were ambivalent. They treated Stephen's friend Duwayne Brooks -- who had fled for his life and managed to escape the gang -- as a suspect. And though, in the following hours and days, many local people pointed fingers toward the same group of five people, officers took no meaningful action....

  • Originally published 03/14/2013

    Lawrence Bobo: Quiet Bias: The Racism of 2013

    Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. He is a contributing editor for The Root.(The Root) -- America is not yet done with the illness of racism, the electoral success of Barack Obama notwithstanding. Yet most white folks don't want to talk about or hear about race anymore. And a good many black folks fret that it is strategically wiser for us to let it alone for now.I am uncomfortable with both prescriptions. Some underlying maladies, to be sure, do heal on their own. Despite its modern subtlety and complexity, however, the current strain of racism infecting the U.S. is unlikely to be self-healing.

  • Originally published 03/11/2013

    Tamara Palmer: How the 'Billie Jean' Video Changed MTV

    Tamara Palmer is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and the author of Country Fried Soul: Adventures in Dirty South Hip-Hop. Follow her on Twitter. (The Root) -- "Billie Jean," who was not Michael Jackson's lover, is turning 30 -- or at least her video is, and it's an important anniversary in the evolution of both black music's visual expression and America's iconic music network. On March 10, 1983, MTV played "Billie Jean" for the first time and forever changed the course of its music programming in the process.

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.: What Was the 2nd Middle Passage?

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root.(The Root) -- 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 16: What was the second Middle Passage?Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by David Eltis and David Richardson, we know that about 388,000 Africans were transported directly to the United States over the course of the slave trade, which ended officially in 1808. This brutally cruel and disruptive phase of the trade, as all American schoolchildren should be taught, is known as "the Middle Passage." But what is often left out of many survey courses is the second Middle Passage, and that dark chapter in American history involved far more black people than were taken from Africa to the United States. It was also uniquely cruel and brutally destructive. And it unfolded during the era when cotton was "king."

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Paul Finkelman: 2nd Amendment Passed to Protect Slavery? No!

    Paul Finkelman, Ph.D., is the President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy at Albany Law School. He is the author of more than 40 books, including Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson and recently published an op-ed in the New York Times on Thomas Jefferson and slavery entitled "The Monster of Monticello."

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Lawrence D. Bobo: Obama's Velvet-Glove Inaugural Address

    Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. (The Root) -- Obama deserves very high but perhaps not superlative marks for his second inaugural address. It had more the character of an inside-the-park home run, not a grand slam. A 9 on my Olympic scorecard, not a full 10. Not a standout, A-plus effort, but certainly a quite solid A-minus. The speech will indeed be remembered, but probably not as one of his signature moments. In the same breath, let me say there is much that is clever and true and oh so right about this speech that is well worthy of praise.Why not an A? First, save for his declarations about confronting global warming, the speech was a little too oblique in naming the current great challenges before us. He rightly did not want to sound a partisan note. And he understandably did not launch into a list of coming policy goals. But the paralysis in Washington brought on by the politics of economic brinkmanship, of the "my way or the highway" negotiation and of anti-government ideological extremity could have been called out more squarely.

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