Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Season Two)

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Biography

Air date: 09/23/2014

Finding Your Roots – Season Two


Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Biography


Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Executive Producer/Writer/Presenter


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.  Literary scholar, filmmaker, journalist, cultural critic and institution builder, Professor Gates has created 13 documentary films and authored 16 books and scores of articles, including for such leading publications as The New Yorker, the New York Times and Time.  Currently, he serves as editor-in-chief of, a daily online magazine, while overseeing the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field.  Professor Gates’s most recent film, the six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which he wrote, executive produced and hosted, earned the 2013 Peabody Award and NAACP Image Award.

Previously for PBS, Professor Gates produced and hosted Wonders of the African World (1999), America Beyond the Color Line (2004), African American Lives (2006), Oprah’s Roots (2007), African American Lives 2 (2008), Looking for Lincoln (2009), Faces of America (2010), Black in Latin America (2011), and Finding Your Roots (2012). Professor Gates is currently completing the next season of Finding Your Roots, airing on PBS in fall 2014.  The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader, a collection of his writings, was published in 2012.

The recipient of 53 honorary degrees and numerous prizes, Professor Gates was a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981, and in 1998, he became the first African-American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal.  He was named to Time’s 25 Most Influential Americans list in 1997, to Ebony’s Power 150 list in 2009, and to Ebony’s Power 100 list in 2010 and 2012. He earned his B.A. in English Language and Literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge in 1979.  Professor Gates has directed The W.E.B. Institute for African and African American Research — now The Hutchins Center — since arriving at Harvard in 1991 and, during his first 15 years on campus, chaired the Department of Afro-American Studies as it expanded into the Department of African and African American Studies with a full-fledged doctoral program. He also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and serves on a wide array of boards, including the New York Public Library, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Aspen Institute, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and the Brookings Institute.  In 2006, he was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution after tracing his lineage to John Redman, a Free Negro who fought in the Revolutionary War.




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