• Array

Wednesday, March 30 | 7:00 pm

Who’s Black and Why?: An Evening with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Andrew S. Curran

Celebrate the new release Who’s Black and Why?: A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race during a special live conversation with the authors.

In 1739, Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences announced a prize contest for the best essay on the sources of “black skin and hair.” Months later, naturalists, physicians, and theologians dispatched essays from all over Europe to the academy. The most religious claimed that Africans had fallen from God’s grace; more ‘scientific’ thinkers affirmed that Black humans had degenerated from a white prototype race in the brutal African climate; still others affirmed that dark skin resulted from “the black bile and blood” that supposedly coursed through Africans’ veins. Looming behind this 1739 contest (and its essays) is the Enlightenment desire to put forward the first scientific understanding of what we now know as race. As important is the fact that, by this era, some four million Africans had already been sentenced to a life of enslavement on American plantations.

The never-before-published essays have survived the centuries tucked away in Bordeaux’s municipal library. Accompanied by a detailed introduction and headnotes written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Andrew Curran, each essay included in Who's Black and Why? lays bare the origins of anti-Black racism and colorism in the West.

This program is supported through the generosity of the Barbara and Malcolm L. Sherman Fund for Adult Programs.


Cahners Theater


Recommended for: Visitors 18 years of age and older

Public Event

Separate ticket required.

Cost: $35

Cost includes copy of new book release Who's Black and Why?: A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

In Person Ticket

Date selected below:


Loading times. Please wait...

{{ priceType.category }}

{{ price.price_type_desc }}* {{ price.price | currency }}