Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr
April 16, 2015

On April 16, 2015 Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. lectured on W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk to cap off the year’s Directed Studies Colloquium series. Gates spoke to an enthusiastic audience of more than 100 students and faculty, offering a wide-ranging lecture on the trajectory of African-American literature before and after Du Bois’s classic work. He was also virtuosic in response to the students’ questions, at one point reciting from memory one of the most elegiac passages from Du Bois’s chapter on education:

“I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed earth and the tracery of the stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension.”