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Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Professor, Filmmaker, Author

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is an award-winning author and filmmaker, as well as a distinguished professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. He has authored or co-authored 25 books and created 23 documentary films, including Wonders of the African World, African American Lives, Faces of America, Black in Latin America, Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise, and Africa’s Great Civilizations. Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series, is now in its seventh season on PBS.

Professor Gates’ PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), won numerous prestigious awards. His series Reconstruction: America after the Civil War (PBS, 2019) was also highly praised, as was its related book, Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow (Penguin Random House, 2019).  

A prolific writer who has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Time, Gates serves as chairman of TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine, and chair of the Creative Board of FUSION TV. He oversees the Oxford African American Studies Center, and has received grant funding to develop a Finding Your Roots curriculum to teach students science through genetics and genealogy.

The recipient of 58 honorary degrees and numerous prizes, Professor Gates was 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 holds a BA in history from Yale University and an MA and PhD in English literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and serves on a wide array of boards. In 2011, his portrait was hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.