Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Live at America’s Town Hall

May 09, 2019


On May 7, host Jeffrey Rosen sat down with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to celebrate the opening of the National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibit – ‘Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality.’ The exhibit is America’s first devoted to exploring how constitutional clashes over slavery set the stage for the Civil War, and how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war with the addition of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. Professor Gates discussed the new exhibit in addition to his PBS series about Reconstruction and two new books—Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow and a young adult book Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow. Gates told the story of the advancements of Reconstruction and the Reconstruction Amendments, how those advancements were thwarted by Jim Crow laws like poll taxes, vagrancy laws, and the rise of hate groups, how the Civil Rights Movement fought against that backlash, and how we are still dealing with many of these issues and challenges today.

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Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. An Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has authored, co-authored, and created numerous books and documentary films, including his newest book Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow and the PBS series Reconstruction: America After the Civil War.

​​​​​​Jeffrey Rosen is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center, the only institution in America chartered by Congress “to disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” 

Additional Resources

Our Interactive Constitution is the leading digital resource about the debates and text behind the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. Here, scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum interact with each other to explore the meaning of each provision of our founding document. 

This episode was engineered by Jackie McDermott and David Stotz, and produced by Jackie McDermott and the Town Hall team of the National Constitution Center – Tanaya Tauber, Madison Poulter, and Lana Ulrich.

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