“Scholar says arrest will lead him to explore race in criminal justice,” headlined the Washington Post, on July 22, 2009.
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, after returning from a week in China, found himself locked out of his house in Cambridge, Mass.
When a neighbor noticed Harvard professor Gates and his driver forcing open the house door, she called police since she did not recognize him in the dark.
Sgt. James Crowley asked Gates to step outside. Gates refused, as he displayed his ID – while demanding that Sgt. Crowley identify himself. “Is this how you treat a black man in America?” he asked, adding:
“You don’t know who you’re messing with!”
Gates was arrested, but charges were later dropped, and President Obama invited both professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley to a reconciliation meeting at the White House.
Now, just nine months later, Gates has written for the New York Times an extensive column that, commendably, supports a cause many of us in talk radio have advocated for decades.
Dr. Gates’ article is headlined: “Ending the slavery blame-game.”
For this, he may well be targeted by the same black-power racial extremists with whom many of us in talk radio have, for years, been contending.
Among other things, in his landmark article Dr. Gates wrote the following:
- “While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.”
- “The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. … Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in ‘Roots.’”
- “The African role in the slave trade was fully understood and openly acknowledged by many African-Americans even before the Civil War. For Frederick Douglass, it was an argument against repatriation schemes for the freed slaves. ‘The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia,’ he warned. ‘We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.’”
- “In 1999 … President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin astonished an all-black congregation in Baltimore by falling to his knees and begging African-Americans’ forgiveness for the ‘shameful’ and ‘abominable’ role Africans played in the slave trade. Other African leaders, including Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, followed Mr. Kerekou’s bold example.”
On Feb. 12, 1987, on the first night of my weeknightly talk-radio show in Baltimore, I reported the following news, which was not at all widely reported in our nation’s old, big, liberal newspapers and TV networks:
“One of this nation’s most distinguished black historians has discovered and reported that in North Carolina, alone, there were 721 slaves owned by 232 black slave owners. … I was able to reach Dr. (John Hope) Franklin by phone this week. I asked him if North Carolina was any kind of rarity in having black slaves owned by blacks. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘I would estimate that there were surely more in Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.’”
Reporting of this on my first broadcast in Baltimore in 1987 resulted in my producer listening to five telephone death threats – for which the Baltimore Police Department sent an officer to our studio for the next five nights.
Fortunately, that has never happened again in the 23 years I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of broadcasting in that enormously stimulating city and throughout the exceptionally colorful state of Maryland.