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 TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine, while overseeing the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field. Professor Gates' most recent film is the award-winning six-part PBS documentary series, "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), which he wrote, executive produced and hosted. He is currently shooting 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 52 honorary degrees and numerous prizes, in 1998 he became the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal presented by President Bill Clinton.
Professor Gates earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge. He received a B.A. in English Language and Literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973. Before joining the faculty of Harvard in 1991, he taught at Yale, Cornell and Duke Universities. Professor Gates has been awarded the 1981 MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award," the 1993 George Polk Award for Social Commentary, and the 2008 Ralph Lowell Award - the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's highest award. 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. In 2002, Gates was selected to give the Jefferson Lecture, in recognition of his "distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities." In 2006, he was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution after tracing his lineage back to John Redman, a Free Negro who fough in the Revolutionary War.
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 Whitny Museum of American Art, the Library of America, and the Brookings Institute.