The first edition of Joel Augustus Rogersās now legendary 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof, published in 1957, was billed as āA Negro āBelieve It or Not.āā Rogersās little book was priceless because he was delivering enlightenment and pride, steeped in historical research, to a people too long starved on the lie that they were worth nothing. For African Americans of the Jim Crow era, Rogersās was their first black history teacher. But Rogers was not always shy about embellishing the āfactsā and minimizing ambiguity; neither was he above shock journalism now and then.
With Ć©lan and eruditionāand with winning enthusiasmāHenry Louis Gates, Jr. gives us a corrective yet loving homage to Rogerās work. Relying on the latest scholarship, Gates leads us on a romp through African, diasporic, and African-American history in question-and-answer format. Among the one hundred questions: Who were Africaās first ambassadors to Europe? Who was the first black president in North America? Did Lincoln really free the slaves? Who was historyās wealthiest person? What percentage of white Americans have recent African ancestry? Why did free black people living in the South before the end of the Civil War stay there? Who was the first black head of state in modern Western history? Where was the first Underground Railroad? Who was the first black American woman to be a self-made millionaire? Which black man made many of our favorite household products better?