African-American history has played an integral role in the shaping of politics, economics, and culture in the United States. Growing up, how did you learn about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans? Were you in a classroom? Reading a book? Talking with relatives or friends? How has your understanding or knowledge of African-American history changed and/or developed over time? What do you think is the most effective way to pass along this rich and growing history to future generations?

Micah Fisher

Dear Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

I am amazed by your documentary Many Rivers To Cross. I don’t know how to start. You were capable of intriguing my whole class. Your resources on this documentary were amazing. Your audacity to show all of these people and things amazes me. You went up into creepy little garrets. When the music or tone changed we knew something bad would happen. When you talked about slaves, I didn’t know what to say. Their stern masters were flogging them. These unruly times were making me ponder. The way you talked about all of the blacks made me spellbound. The slaves struggled with their heavy burdens. Wow, in one documentary, wow!

I saw you go into a tiny little cupboard that slaves were hidden in. It was tiny! Maybe two feet by three feet. I wonder how people fit in the cupboard. I wouldn’t do it, but if it was life or death (well back into slavery)…. I went to Plymouth Church and the basement where the slaves hid was huge! I wonder why these hiding spots were different. My teacher, Ms. Cyphers, her house is on the Delaware River. The historians say it had a slave hideout. It seems like an impossible journey from Alabama to Canada. It is CRAZY. I wish there was a real, safe, underground passage.

The ups and downs of the African Americans amaze me. After something good happens, something bad happens. Whenever blacks do something good, a couple of years later, whites revolt against the black organizations. The bigger groups were harder to get rid of. The NAACP was not destroyed at all, but even after the “16 acres and maybe a mule rule”, the Black world collapsed, because of economic jealousy. With all of the Jim Crow laws, it seemed that the Blacks would never be desegregated. After the Civil War, when many Americans were killed, America finally got rid of slavery. But segregation came, and it seemed that the Union won a war for nothing. Why have the most casualties in America barely matter?

Why were there slaves? People thought that blacks were made for whites. Scientists said that black skulls were shaped differently. Well, those scientists should go to a good college again. Pirates, also pirates, were taking slaves – so blame them, but don’t blame the African Americans. But even worse, people in Africa gave others from the same tribe to the white slave sellers. All I can call them are traitors, pure traitors. Let’s say you’re my brother and I sell you into slavery. It’s a lose/lose. I lose my brother. You lose your freedom. Now you’re a slave – how do you feel?

Yeah, I mean how would you feel, barbaric white slave owners killed slave souls every day. Torture, just torture. Worse than death. What a free country?

When you got to film people who police accused for having drugs. Throwing them in jail like pieces of trash! Even if they did not do anything they might be put in jail. I bet if a white got into those problems, they would not be thrown in jail. People were being accused for things they did not have or do. I saw poverty in Washington DC, but the blacks were without money. Not whites, blacks. Poor people usually are put in jail more often not rich. It just happens that there are more black people than white.

Lots of Blacks are in jail for reasons. I do not know. Eric Garner and Michael Brown did not have to be killed. There could have been a fair trial

We cannot clean up history, but we can clean our future from this wickedness. We need to learn how to be kind. Then only then will we be clean for the future. Police brutality is crazy and horrible. Why does the NYPD teach people to do this? Saying I can’t breath 11 times – does not mean anything? Do you really need to shoot him 12 times? I am sorry to say one person can’t change the world, But 100,000 can.


Micah Fisher