The first edition of Joel Augustus Rogersâs now legendary 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof, published in 1957, was billed as âA Negro âBelieve It or Not.ââ Rogersâs 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, Rogersâs was their first black history teacher. But Rogers was not always shy about embellishing the âfactsâ and minimizing ambiguity; neither was he above shock journalism now and then.
With Ă©lan and eruditionâand with winning enthusiasmâHenry Louis Gates, Jr. gives us a corrective yet loving homage to Rogerâs 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 Africaâs first ambassadors to Europe? Who was the first black president in North America? Did Lincoln really free the slaves? Who was historyâs 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?