How far have we come toward racial equality since the civil rights era? What does it mean to be black today? How can we have had a black president while events like Ferguson continue to occur? Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard professor and filmmaker, says progress in the black community over the last 50 years has been paradoxical. African Americans have risen to stardom and climbed the economic ladder, and yet poverty pervades life for many blacks. More than 2 million African Americans are incarcerated, and Gates says one in three black men go to prison. “How did we get to this situation where some of us have more freedom and wealth than any previous generation,” Gates wonders, “and on the other hand, there is maybe even less hope for so many.”
Gates spoke with Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson about what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would think of today’s black America. Gates’ PBS documentary series “Black in America Since MLK: And Still I Rise,” looks back on African American history from 1965 to today. In this episode, you’ll hear a clip from the documentary and a reading of the Langston Hughes poem Let America Be America Again.
Discover more about what’s discussed in this episode by click the links below.
- Black in America Since MLK: And Still I Rise, PBS
- Let America Be America Again, Langston Hughes
- The MLK I Knew — and What Today’s Changemakers Should Learn from Him, Aspen Ideas Festival
- “Extra” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Aspen Ideas to GoHenry Louis Gates, Jr.
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