Louis Gossett Jr. says he prefers 'American Negro,' not 'African-American'

Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. is adding another credit to his illustrious acting resume with his role in the new BET mini-series, The Book of Negroes.

The 3 night mini-series is based on the award-winning book of the same name by Lawrence Hill and tells the story of Aminata Diallo, a woman stolen from her village in Africa and sold into slavery as a child who ultimately finds freedom later in life. 

78-year-old Gossett Jr. stars in the series as Daddy Moses, a blind, wise, church leader who doubles as community organizer and father figure to Aminata.

In an interview with theGrio, the legendary actor recalled his Emmy Award-winning role in Roots and talked about the importance of films addressing slavery.

Watch theGrio’s full interview with Louis Gossett Jr. below:

“It’s nice to be Moses and Fiddler and all that stuff … to know about our roots, because I think we all should know, because there’s so much more to tell. I think it’s a blessed journey to play all these significant characters during an almost 60-year career. It’s only the tip of the iceberg in our history. We need to do it, regardless of the Oscars and stuff.”

Gossett Jr. also discussed the somewhat provocative title of his new mini-series, which uses the dated term “negro.” He believes eventually black Americans won’t have to use labels defining their race.

“Eventually [labels] will go away. But until that time, the British chose [negro] and that was the word they used.

“I call myself an American Negro, not an African-American, I’m American African,” Gossett Jr. said. “I’m an American.”

He later opened up about what he says is one film role he regrets turning down.

“My manager turned it down for me, so I’m not going to say his name, but I had won an Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman, and I got offered the military role in A Soldier’s Story, but my manager said ‘enough military roles.’ I’d love to have worked with Denzel Washington and all of those people. Hopefully we’ll do it now.”

Tune in tonight for part 2 of The Book of Negroes on BET at 8/7c.