Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar, his co-editor on a new anthology of African American folktales, joined On Point Tuesday to talk about "The Annotated African American Folktales."
They also read some of those folktales on the show, and talked about what they mean — about the African American experience, then and now. You can watch Gates and Tatar read them below.
First up, Gates told a story the way that his father told him, one about the scorpion and the frog. It's a well known tale, but it has a deeper meaning, too, reflecting on broken promises and betrayal.
Gates also read a short story, just four lines, called "The Flying Man" — part of a poignant mythology of escaping bondage, one that also reflects on death.
"They invented a myth that there was a mechanism of escape," Gates explained. "They'll fly away to Africa. A metaphor for flying away to Heaven."
Gates and Tatar together read another story on this theme, this one a bit longer:
For the full interview with Gates and Tatar, click this link.
This segment aired on December 5, 2017. The audio for this segment is not available.