Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has published numerous books and produced and hosted an array of documentary films. The Black Church (PBS) and Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches (HBO), which he executive produced, have each received Emmy nominations. His latest history series for PBS is Making Black America: Through the Grapevine. Finding Your Roots, Gates’s groundbreaking genealogy and genetics series, is now in its ninth season on PBS.
Gates is a recipient of a number of honorary degrees, including his alma mater, the University of Cambridge. 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.
A native of Piedmont, West Virginia, Gates earned his B.A. in History, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at Cambridge in 1979, where he is also an Honorary Fellow. A former chair of the Pulitzer Prize board, he 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, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and The Studio Museum of Harlem. In 2011, his portrait, by Yuqi Wang, was hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.