Despite the standard Black History Month lessons you may have been taught in school, there’s much more to the story than slavery, civil rights and an ever-growing list of “firsts.”
Henry Louis Gates Jr., founding director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and The Root‘s editor-in-chief, who recently wrote and executive-produced PBS’ six-part series, African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, knows that well.
Here, the historian highlights a set of his favorite triumphant, unexpected, adventurous and otherwise fascinating stories. There’s the saga of 12 Years a Slave’s Solomon Northup, plus 17 other tales, each of which could provide the basis of its own gripping feature film. They’re all part of the black experience in America, and they’re all, according to Gates, African-American history events you’ll want to know about.