Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy Award- winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic and institution builder, Professor Gates has authored seventeen books and created fourteen documentary films. Host of the popular show Finding Your Roots, Professor Gates is one of the United States’ most influential cultural critics and is both an eloquent commentator and formidable intellectual force on multicultural and African American issues.

Professor Gates is Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American Studies and Africana Studies. His six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), which he wrote, executive produced and hosted, earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program — Long Form, as well as the Peabody Award and NAACP Image Award.

Having written for such leading publications as The New Yorker,The New York Times and Time, Professor Gates now serves as editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine. In 2012, The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader, a collection on his writings, was published. Professor Gates’s latest book isFinding Your Roots: The Official Companion to the PBS Series, released by the University of North Carolina Press in 2014.

In 2006, Professor Gates wrote and produced the PBS documentary also called African American Lives, the first documentary series to employ genealogy and science to provide an understanding of African American history. In 2007, a follow-up one-hour documentary, Oprah’s Roots: An African American Lives Special, aired on PBS, further examining the genealogical and genetic heritage of Oprah Winfrey, who had been featured in the original documentary. Professor Gates also wrote and produced the documentaries Wonders of the African World (2000) and America Beyond the Color Line (2004) for the BBC and PBS, and authored the companion volumes to both series.

He has received 54 honorary degrees, from institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, New York University and Howard University. In 2006, he was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution, after he traced his lineage back to John Redman, a Free Negro who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Professor Gates is widely acknowledged for taking African American studies beyond the ideological bent and bringing it into a scholarly sphere that is equivalent to all other disciplines.