Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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 authored or co-authored more than 20 books and created more than 20 documentary films, including The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Black in Latin America, Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise, Africa’s Great Civilizations, Reconstruction: America after the Civil War, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This is Our Song,, and Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series now in its seventh season on PBS.

8.3.4
hlg_bio.docx18 KB

Read More

 

The recipient of 58 honorary degrees, 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 the University of Cambridge in 1979. He also is an Honorary Fellow, Clare College, at the University of Cambridge. 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, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and the Brookings Institution. In 2011, his portrait, by Yuqi Wang, was hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Books

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Donald Yacovone. 2013. The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Smiley Books. Abstract
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is the companion book to the six-part, six hour documentary of the same name, airing on national, primetime public television in the fall of 2013. The series is the first to air since 1968 that chronicles the full sweep of 500 years of African American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent and the arrival of the first black conquistador, Juan Garrido, in Florida in 1513, through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to today—when Barack Obama is serving his second term as President, yet our country remains deeply divided by race and class.
The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2012. The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader. Edited by Abby Wolf. Basic Civitas Books. Abstract
Educator, writer, critic, intellectual, film-maker-Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has been widely praised as being one of America's most prominent and prolific scholars. In what will be an essential volume, The Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Reader collects three decades of writings from his many fields of interest and expertise.
Black in Latin America
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2011. Black in Latin America. New York University Press. Abstract
12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World during the Middle Passage. While just over 11.0 million survived the arduous journey, only about 450,000 of them arrived in the United States. The rest—over ten and a half million—were taken to the Caribbean and Latin America. This astonishing fact changes our entire picture of the history of slavery in the Western hemisphere, and of its lasting cultural impact. These millions of Africans created new and vibrant cultures, magnificently compelling syntheses of various African, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish influences.

Films

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2016. Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise. Writer, narrator, and executive producer. Four-hour series, PBS, November 15 – November 22, 2016. Abstract
In his new four-hour series, BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. embarks on a deeply personal journey through the last fifty years of African American history. Joined by leading scholars, celebrities, and a dynamic cast of people who shaped these years, Gates travels from the victories of the civil rights movement up to today, asking profound questions about the state of black America—and our nation as a whole.
Finding Your Roots, Season 2
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2014. Finding Your Roots, Season 2. Writer, narrator, and executive producer. Television series, PBS (ten, one-hour episodes): September 23 – November 25, 2014. Abstract
Explore the heritages and ancestries of leading entertainers, athletes, chefs, and media personalities in season two of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
12 Years a Slave
2013. 12 Years a Slave. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., historical consultant. Feature film directed by Steve McQueen, Fox Searchlight Pictures. Abstract
Award-winning historical slave-narrative drama directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film follows the experience of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), an African-American living with a wife and two children in Saratoga, New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery by men claiming to offer him work as a circus musician. Transported by ship to New Orleans, it isn't long before he is given a new name and sold to William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), a relatively empathetic slave owner. But confrontations with the cruel and violent overseer John Tibeats (Paul Dano) lead to Solomon being passed on by Ford to the extremely abusive and alcoholic planter Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), who rules his slaves with a whip in one hand and a Bible in the other. Believing the only hope of regaining his freedom is to remain passive for the time being, Solomon ceases fighting against the illegitimacy of his situation until salvation is offered to him by a kindly labourer named Bass (Brad Pitt). The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o) and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama and BAFTAs for Best Leading Actor (Ejiofor) and Best Film.
Many Rivers to Cross: The African Americans
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2013. Many Rivers to Cross: The African Americans. Writer, narrator, and executive producer. Six-hour series, PBS, October 22 - November 26, 2013. Abstract
This six-hour series chronicles the full sweep of African-American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent through more than four centuries of remarkable historic events up to the present. Survey the full sweep of African-American history with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 
Finding Your Roots, Season 1
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2012. Finding Your Roots, Season 1. Writer, narrator, and executive producer. Television series, PBS (ten, one-hour episodes): March 25 - May 20, 2012. Abstract
The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Continuing on the quest begun in his previous projects, African American Lives, African American Lives 2, and Faces of America, Gates finds new ways to get into the DNA of American culture.
Black in Latin America
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2011. Black in Latin America. Writer, narrator, and executive producer. Four-hour series, PBS, April 19 - May 10, 2011. Abstract
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. uncovers Latin America's African roots in this four-part series. Black in Latin America is a quest to discover how Africa and Europe combined to create the vibrant cultures of Latin America, with a rich legacy of thoughtful, articulate subjects whose stories are astonishingly moving and irresistibly compelling.

Edited Books

Albert Murray: Collected Novels & Poems
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Paul Devlin, ed. 2018. Albert Murray: Collected Novels & Poems. Library of America. Abstract
One of the leading cultural critics of his generation, Albert Murray was also the author of an extraordinary quartet of semi-autobiographical novels, vivid impressionistic portraits of black life in the Deep South in the 1920s and '30s and in prewar New York City. Train Whistle Guitar (1974) introduces Murray's recurring narrator and protagonist, Scooter, a "Southern jackrabbit raised in a briarpatch" too nimble ever to receive a scratch. Scooter's education in books, music, and the blue-steel bent-note blues-ballad realities of American life continues in The Spyglass Tree (1991), Murray's "Portrait of the Artist as a Tuskegee Undergraduate." The Seven League Boots (1996) follows Scooter as he becomes a bass player in a touring band not unlike Duke Ellington's, and The Magic Keys (2005), in which Scooter at last finds his true vocation as a writer in Greenwich Village, is an elegaic reverie on an artist's life. Editors Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Paul Devlin round out the volume with a selection of Murray's remarkable poems, including 11 unpublished pieces from his notebooks, and two rare examples of his work as a short story writer.
Twelve Years a Slave: Norton Critical Edition
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Kevin M. Burke, ed. 2017. Twelve Years a Slave: Norton Critical Edition. W.W. Norton. Abstract
This Norton Critical Edition of Solomon Northup’s harrowing autobiography is based on the 1853 first edition. It is accompanied by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kevin Burke’s introduction and detailed explanatory footnotes.
The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Hollis Robbins, ed. 2017. The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers. Penguin Classics. Abstract
The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers is the most comprehensive anthology of its kind: an extraordinary range of voices offering the expressions of African American women in print before, during, and after the Civil War. Edited by Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this collection comprises work from forty-nine writers arranged into sections of memoir, poetry, and essays on feminism, education, and the legacy of African American women writers. Many of these pieces engage with social movements like abolition, women’s suffrage, temperance, and civil rights, but the thematic center is the intellect and personal ambition of African American women. The diverse selection includes well-known writers like Sojourner Truth, Hannah Crafts, and Harriet Jacobs, as well as lesser-known writers like Ella Sheppard, who offers a firsthand account of life in the world-famous Fisk Jubilee Singers. Taken together, these incredible works insist that the writing of African American women writers be read, remembered, and addressed.
The Annotated African American Folktales
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Maria Tatar, ed. 2017. The Annotated African American Folktales. Liveright. Abstract

These nearly 150 African American folktales animate our past and reclaim a lost cultural legacy to redefine American literature.

Drawing from the great folklorists of the past while expanding African American lore with dozens of tales rarely seen before, The Annotated African American Folktales revolutionizes the canon like no other volume. Following in the tradition of such classics as Arthur Huff Fauset's "Negro Folk Tales from the South" (1927), Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men (1935), and Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly (1985), acclaimed scholars Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar assemble a groundbreaking collection of folktales, myths, and legends that revitalizes a vibrant African American past to produce the most comprehensive and ambitious collection of African American folktales ever published in American literary history. Arguing for the value of these deceptively simple stories as part of a sophisticated, complex, and heterogeneous cultural heritage, Gates and Tatar show how these remarkable stories deserve a place alongside the classic works of African American literature, and American literature more broadly.

Opening with two introductory essays and twenty seminal African tales as historical background, Gates and Tatar present nearly 150 African American stories, among them familiar Brer Rabbit classics, but also stories like "The Talking Skull" and "Witches Who Ride," as well as out-of-print tales from the 1890s' Southern Workman. Beginning with the figure of Anansi, the African trickster, master of improvisation―a spider who plots and weaves in scandalous ways―The Annotated African American Folktales then goes on to draw Caribbean and Creole tales into the orbit of the folkloric canon. It retrieves stories not seen since the Harlem Renaissance and brings back archival tales of "Negro folklore" that Booker T. Washington proclaimed had emanated from a "grapevine" that existed even before the American Revolution, stories brought over by slaves who had survived the Middle Passage. Furthermore, Gates and Tatar's volume not only defines a new canon but reveals how these folktales were hijacked and misappropriated in previous incarnations, egregiously by Joel Chandler Harris, a Southern newspaperman, as well as by Walt Disney, who cannibalized and capitalized on Harris's volumes by creating cartoon characters drawn from this African American lore.

Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Franklin W. Knight, ed. 2016. Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography. Oxford University Press. Abstract
From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Pelé, the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography will provide a comprehensive overview of the lives of Caribbeans and Afro-Latin Americans who are historically significant. The project will be unprecedented in scale, covering the entire Caribbean, and the Afro-descended populations throughout Latin America, including people who spoke and wrote Creole, Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. It will also encompass the full scope of history, with entries on figures from the first forced slave migrations in the sixteenth centuries, to entries on living persons such as the Haitian musician and politician Wyclef Jean and the Cuban author and poet Nancy Morejón. Individuals will be drawn from all walks of life including philosophers, politicians, activists, entertainers, scholars, poets, scientists, religious figures, kings, and everyday people whose lives have contributed to the history of the Caribbean and Latin America.
The Portable Frederick Douglass
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and John Stauffer, ed. 2016. The Portable Frederick Douglass. Penguin Classics. Abstract
This compact volume offers a full course on the remarkable, diverse career of Frederick Douglass, letting us hear once more a necessary historical figure whose guiding voice is needed now as urgently as ever. Edited by renowned scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Pulitzer Prize–nominated historian John Stauffer, The Portable Frederick Douglass includes the full range of Douglass’s works: the complete Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, as well as extracts from My Bondage and My Freedom and Life and Times of Frederick DouglassThe Heroic Slave, one of the first works of African American fiction; the brilliant speeches that launched his political career and that constitute the greatest oratory of the Civil War era; and his journalism, which ranges from cultural and political critique (including his early support for women’s equality) to law, history, philosophy, literature, art, and international affairs, including a never-before-published essay on Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture.
  •  
  • 1 of 3
  • »

Projects