Chicago Tribune

Henry Louis Gates Jr. on his never-ending quest to excavate African-American history

Pioneering feminist Anna J. Cooper once wrote, "black people have to stop imitating white people and white culture." She went on to say that black Americans in 1893 had to find their own voice, the roots of which are buried in the literature, mythology and folktales and music created by their enslaved ancestors. A century later, when Henry Louis Gates Jr. read her essay, published in "The Southern Workman," he found her words exceptional.

"It was so brilliantly put and so shocking to find in 1893 that this argument had been laid out so perfectly," he said in a recent phone interview. "When I read it, I called my editor and said we are reprinting that essay because nobody

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