What's fascinated me from the time I was a little kid was the way we construct our lives through stories.
Ever since I watched 'Roots,' I've dreamed of tracing my African ancestry and helping other people do the same.
I want to be a figure for prison reform. I think that the criminal justice system is rotten.
Very few, if any, first-generation black or white or Asian kids will pursue a Ph.D. They'll pursue the professions for economic security. Many will go to law school and/or business school.
The bottom line is that Wanda Sykes has the longest continuously documented family tree of any African-American we have ever researched.
My brother and I had a really privileged relationship with my parents... They treated us like adults.
I think that the implication of King's assassination has not been fully appreciated.
The African American's relationship to Africa has long been ambivalent, at least since the early nineteenth century, when 3,000 black men crowded into Bishop Richard Allen's African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia to protest noisily a plan to recolonize free blacks in Africa.
My father was the funniest man I ever met. He made Redd Foxx look like an undertaker.
Since the day Martin Luther King was killed, the black middle classes have almost quadrupled, but the percentage of black children living on or below the poverty line is almost the same.
My goal is to get everybody in America to do their family tree.
You can find virtually everybody black back as far as the 1870 census. Why 1870? That's when the ex-slaves first have surnames. But if you find your great-great-grandfather in 1870 and it says he's 50, that means he was born in 1820 and you're back to 1820 already. For an American that's pretty damned good, you know?
Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide.
The only people who live in a post-black world are four people who live in a little white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. The idea that America is post-racial or post-black because a man I admire, Barack Obama, is president of the United States, is a joke. And I hope no one will even wonder about this crazy fiction again.
My father and I made genetics history. We were the first African-Americans and the first father and son anywhere to have their genomes sequenced.
I knew that there were black people in Africa, of course, unfortunately because of movies such as 'Tarzan.'
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.
There are just so many stories that are buried on family trees.
Patriotism is best exemplified through auto-critique. When you're willing to stand up within the group and say, 'It is wrong for Black people to be anti-Semitic,' or 'It is wrong for America to discriminate against persons of African descent and made them slaves and based its wealth upon free labor,' it's crucial to say that.
I would like to do a series about sequencing the human genome, and also analyze more human diversity among other ethnic groups - a 'Faces of America 2.'
Because Lincoln is so closely identified with what it is to be American, everyone wants to claim him, to rewrite his story to satisfy their own particular needs. For my own people, it was important to imagine him as the Great Emancipator, the Moses who led us out of slavery.
No one thinks of Mexico and Peru as black. But Mexico and Peru together got 700,000 Africans in the slave trade. The coast of Acapulco was a black city in the 1870s. And the Veracruz Coast on the gulf of Mexico and the Costa Chica, south of Acapulco are traditional black lands.
My father, if anything, first and last, was a man of words. He loved stories; he didn't live for stories, exactly, but I think he lived through stories. I think, like many writers, he loved stories about things he had experienced as much as, if not more than, he loved the experiences themselves.
If Martin Luther King came back, he'd say we need another civil rights movement built on class not race.
The Western stereotype of Africa and its black citizens as devoid of reason and, therefore, subhuman was often shared by white master and black ex-slave alike.
My mom, God rest her soul - she liked nicknames. In the womb she named me Skip. There was another black guy in Piedmont, W.Va., and his name was Skip. They called him Big Skip, and I was Little Skip.
A more humane form of capitalism is about the best I think we can get. Which might sound very reformist or conservative, but that's basically where I am.
My father lived to be 97 and played bridge every day up to the end, so I've got a 50 percent chance of living a long life like him.
My family and our neighbors and friends thought of Africa and its Africans as extensions of the stereotyped characters that we saw in movies and on television in films such as 'Tarzan' and in programs such as 'Ramar of the Jungle' and 'Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.'
You have a diasporic black world, and the only way to put it back together again is symbolic. It's like Humpty Dumpty. Whoever could edit the 'Encyclopedia Africana' would provide symbolic order to the fragments created over the past 500 years. That is a major contribution.
Really, the values under which my generation was raised in the '50s were immigrant values even though we weren't immigrants. The greatest thing you could be was a college-educated Negro.
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.
We can revolutionize the attitude of inner city brown and black kids to learning. We need a civil rights movement within the African-American community.
But you see, our society is still trapped in this binary, black/white logic and that has had some very positive implications for our generation. It's had some very negative ones as well and one of the negative ones is that it creates enormous identity problems for people who have one black ancestor and all white ancestors for example.
Keeping the Union together, freeing slaves and being assassinated all added up to creating 'Lincoln the myth.' He overcame a lot of his own prejudices and became what many would consider the first black man's president.
One principle I've been fighting for that doesn't endear me to a lot of people is that black people can be just as complicated and screwed up as white people. Our motives can be just as base and violent. Suffering does not necessarily ennoble you.
Wherever you go in the history of America, there have been Black people making contributions, but their contributions have been obscured, lost, buried.
First we have to recognize that the cause of poverty is both structural and behavioral. And the first thing about the behavior part is that we need a moral revolution within the African American community. Look - no white racist makes you get pregnant when you are a black teenager.
If you share a common ancestor with somebody, you're related to them. It doesn't mean that you're going to invite them to the family reunion, but it means that you share DNA. I think it's fascinating.
We can't all work in the inner city. And, I don't even think that it is incumbent upon an African-American intellectual to be concerned in their work with problems of race and class. It's just one of the things, that we here at the DuBois Institute, are concerned about.
Cuba is like going to a whole other planet. It's so different but it's so similar to the United States, to Miami. It's like a doppelgaenger. It's the mirror image. And I have no doubt, that once Cuba becomes democratic, that it will be the favorite tourist destination for Americans.
You notice patterns. White guests often are mortified - that word again - when they learn their ancestors owned slaves. But I've never had a black guest who was upset to learn about white ancestry that probably involved forced sexual relations.
It's important to debunk the myths of Africa being this benighted continent civilized only when white people arrived. In fact, Africans had been creators of culture for thousands of years before. These were very intelligent, subtle and sophisticated people, with organized societies and great art.