Henry Louis Gates
The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.
Let's face it - think of Africa, and the first images that come to mind are of war, poverty, famine and flies. How many of us really know anything at all about the truly great ancient African civilizations, which in their day, were just as splendid and glorious as any on the face of the earth?
I believe in the law. I think we have a great system of justice. But I do think that system of justice has been corrupted by racism and classism. I think it's difficult for 'poor people' - poor white people, brown people - to be treated fairly before the law in the same way that upper-class people are.
If Martin Luther King came back, he'd say we need another civil rights movement built on class not race.
In Ethiopia, the black people became Christians 1700 years ago, hundreds of years before Northern Europe turned to Christianity... And here, most of the saints are black.
People are afraid, and when people are afraid, when their pie is shrinking, they look for somebody to hate. They look for somebody to blame. And a real leader speaks to anxiety and to fear and allays those fears, assuages anxiety.
People who own property feel a sense of ownership in their future and their society. They study, save, work, strive and vote. And people trapped in a culture of tenancy do not.
In America one drop of black ancestry makes you black. In Brazil, it's almost as if one drop of white ancestry makes you white.
In America there is institutional racism that we all inherit and participate in, like breathing the air in this room - and we have to become sensitive to it.
Ever since I watched 'Roots,' I've dreamed of tracing my African ancestry and helping other people do the same.