We owe an unprecedented debt of gratitude to Dr. Henry Louis Gates, for the stirring presentation and interpretative of the lives of Black Americans in this country. It is particularly important because the prevailing sentiment in many quarters of the dominant society that Black life doesn't have to be understood, it needs to be dismissed and that racism no longer exists because the fire hoses and police dogs that represented the most virulent and violent forms of oppression are gone.
In the last installment of 'The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross', Gates reminds us of the extent to which barriers to equality are embedded in the very structure of American life and remain the final frontier on the pathway to freedom.
An irony to be noted: the rise of the Black Panthers, who exerted their 2nd Amendment Rights to defend their communities and the crushing of that movement and the eventual deaths of demonized young black men brought about by the dominant society's embrace of their rights to bare concealed weapons and 'stand your ground laws'.
The least thoughtful among us will raise narrow questions which actually prove that we are not equal, but in their minds are a - at best naive suggestion the exceptional among us are proof of equality. It's akin to saying that if the success of Steven Jobs, means every white person who knows how to program a computer should be a billionaire by now.
Gates' point is that every equality for every American means a greater democratic truth and example for the entire world. We cannot settle for anything less, and on that journey ALL Americans have many to cross...