In 1934, Joel A. Rogers, a self-educated black journalist and historian, began an ambitious project for a column in the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American weekly newspaper. He called it "Your History" and included interesting and little-known facts about black men and women. In 1957, he published his research in a 51-page book 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof.

Inspired and edified by this work, the popular educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has added to and reworked the classic as a tribute to Rogers. The result is a dramatic and powerful affirmation of African-American diversity, creativity, and perseverance in the midst of violence, suffering, and rank injustice.

Using a question-and-answer format, Gates covers such subjects as:

  • the Underground Railroad
  • U.S. slave rebellions
  • black men serving as sheriffs in the Wild West
  • what Malcolm X did at Oxford
  • the patron saint of African slaves and their descendants
  • the first black actor to play the role of the Moor of Venice in Shakespeare's drama
  • the first black American to lead a "back to Africa" effort