Presenter: Mary C. Kelly
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. A challenging and unsettling account of Reconstruction-era racial history, with much to inform us about today's cultural and political divides.
The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked “a new birth of freedom” in Lincoln’s America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s America? Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the “nadir” of the African American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance. An essential tour through one of America’s fundamental historical tragedies, Stony the Road is also a story of heroic resistance, as figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells fought to create a counter-narrative, and culture, inside the lion’s mouth. As sobering as this tale is, it also has within it the inspiration that comes with encountering the hopes our ancestors advanced against the longest odds.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.