Gates on African American History, Music and Film

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor at Harvard University, director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, as well as the author of Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1513-2008, continues this month's series on African American history. This week: music and popular culture, including Billy Eckstine, Thriller and the television show Roots.


Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Comments [15]

Erich Hicks from

Keep history alive by telling that history:

Read the greatest 'historical novel', Rescue at Pine Ridge, the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers. The website is: This is the greatest story of Black Military History...5 stars Amazon Internationally, and Barnes & Noble. Youtube commercials are: and

Rescue at Pine Ridge is the story of the rescue of the famed 7th Cavalry by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. The 7th Cavalry was entrapped again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry. This story is about, brutality, compassion, reprisal, bravery, heroism, redemption and gallantry.

You’ll enjoy the novel that embodies the Native Americans, Outlaws and African-American/Black soldiers, from the south to the north, in the days of the Native American Wars with the approaching United States of America.

The novel was taken from my mini-series movie with the same title, “RaPR” to keep the story alive. The movie so far has the interest of, Mr. Bill Duke, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman, James Whitmore Jr., Reginald T. Dorsey and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with, in starring in this epic American story.

When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for the US Postal System in Montana, in the 1890's, “spread the word”.


Dec. 22 2011 06:14 PM

I love these segments - Can you invite Henry Louis Gates back every week till he has nothing more to tell us?

Dec. 22 2011 03:59 PM
Rachel from Westchester, NY

Billy Eckstine! I haven't heard that name in a while. My white Jewish mom ( a social worker) was friends with a lot of black musicians when I was growing up in Phila. area. When I was in elementary school, she and her friends snuck me into a Billy Eckstine show in a smoky club in Camden, NJ, I think it was, in the mid-1960s.I had to sort of hide under the table (but did get a Shirley Temple drink). I developed a big crush on Billy, and one of the friends did a great impression of him to make me squeal. These guys adored and revered Billy. Since our name ended in "stein," too, we always fantasized we were related to him.

Dec. 22 2011 11:12 AM
John from office

Have a good holiday Becky, Merry Christmas, you always make me laugh.

Dec. 22 2011 11:02 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

I may be biased, but I find the worldwide/ cross cultural/ cross-national/ cross-class impact and dominance of the music of a people so demeaned and downtrodden miraculous.

Dec. 22 2011 11:01 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Ever since I grew in the housing projects in Brownsville in the 1950s, I have embraced EVERY form of black music except for one - HIP HOP! I will never enjoy or embrace hip hop. I just viscerally hate it with a passion to my core. If I were in enemy hands and they wanted to torture me by playing hip hop at me, I'd give every secret in a flash, faster than if I were waterboarded or was having my nails pulled out. Hip hop to me is pure, unadulterated torture, and no one can talk me into liking it.

Dec. 22 2011 11:00 AM
The Truth from Becky

John boy, I think you are beyond penis envy, I think you just full on WISH you were a Black Man, a rich one though.

Dec. 22 2011 10:59 AM
The Truth from Becky

What a shame "John from illegal alien parents" that your envy of the Black Man continues, that you feel the need to sully this page with your ridiculous stereotypical comments. There are as many if not more young white and hispanic boys running around with their pants hanging off their behinds than young Black men. Have you seen Eminem? LMFAO? and the like?

Dec. 22 2011 10:57 AM
John from office

Afro sheen!!, What about Jerry Curl, left many an impression on a subway window and seat!

Dec. 22 2011 10:57 AM
Adam in Brookyln

Great segment. In response to Prof. Gates' comment about a study of the history of sampling: someone has done a study and produced a website, It may not be scientific, but there it is.

Dec. 22 2011 10:56 AM
john from Office

He looks like Will Smith!

Dec. 22 2011 10:55 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

If his name were spelled "Eckstein", the Jewish connection would be more transparent. I wonder if he or some manager of his changed the spelling.

Dec. 22 2011 10:50 AM
John from office

The shame is that the freedom brought by blood and sweat has lead to so called "stars" like Lil Wayne and the world of rap. Baggy pants and underwear show nonsense.

Dec. 22 2011 10:50 AM
D from Mt Vernon

what a great picture !

Dec. 22 2011 10:49 AM
Priya from Brooklyn

Brian, I believe Roots was re-aired sometime in the late 80s or early 90s and my parents and I watched it. At that time my mother told me that she made a point to go to a US Cultural Center in Algeria (where we lived in the late 70s) to watch Roots. It was a significant enough cultural event that she felt, as a displaced Indian living in North Africa, she had to see. And all the years later my parents felt it was important enough for us to watch the mini series as a family.

Dec. 22 2011 10:43 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.