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’s most recent books are Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow and The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song. He has also produced and hosted more than 20 documentary films, most recently The Black Church on PBS and Black Art: In the Absence of Light for HBO. Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy and genetics series, is now in its eighth season on PBS.

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He is a recipient of a number of honorary degrees, most recently a Litt.D. from 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.

Books

100 Amazing Facts about the Negro
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2017. 100 Amazing Facts about the Negro. Pantheon. Abstract
The first edition of Joel Augustus Rogers’s now legendary 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof, published in 1934, was billed as “A Negro ‘Believe It or Not.’” Rogers’s little book was priceless because he was delivering enlightenment and pride, steeped in historical research, to a people too long starved on the lie that they were worth nothing. For African Americans of the Jim Crow era, Rogers’s was their first black history teacher. But Rogers was not always shy about embellishing the “facts” and minimizing ambiguity; neither was he above shock journalism now and then.
 
With élan and erudition—and with winning enthusiasm—Henry Louis Gates, Jr. gives us a corrective yet loving homage to Roger’s work.
And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Kevin M. Burke. 2015. And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK. Ecco/HarperCollins. Publisher's Version Abstract

The companion book to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s PBS series, And Still I Rise—a timeline and chronicle of the past fifty years of black history in the U.S. in more than 350 photos.

Beginning with the assassination of Malcolm X in February 1965, And Still I Rise: From Black Power to the White House explores the last half-century of the African American experience.

Os Negros Na América Latina
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2014. Os Negros Na América Latina. Companhia das Letras. Abstract

Latin American Edition of 'Black in Latin America'

Segundo Henry Louis Gates Jr., a história da diáspora africana é em grande medida a história dos ciclos econômicos - mineração, açúcar, tabaco, pecuária - das colônias europeias no Novo Mundo. A partir da descoberta da América, milhões de homens e mulheres foram transportados em horríveis condições até portos como os de Havana, Veracruz e Salvador. Aqueles que sobreviviam à viagem em geral trabalhavam até a morte nas fazendas, minas e cidades coloniais, assim como seus descendentes.

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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 Essays & Memoirs
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Paul Devlin, ed. 2016. Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs. Library of America. Abstract
In his 1970 classic The Omni-Americans, Albert Murray (1916–2013) took aim at protest writers and social scientists who accentuated the “pathology” of race in American life. Against narratives of marginalization and victimhood, Murray argued that black art and culture, particularly jazz and blues, stand at the very headwaters of the American mainstream, and that much of what is best in American art embodies the “blues-hero tradition”— a heritage of grace, wit, and inspired improvisation in the face of adversity. Murray went on to refine these ideas in The Blue Devils of Nada and From the Briarpatch File, and all three landmark collections of essays are gathered here for the first time, together with Murray’s memoir South to a Very Old Place, his brilliant lecture series The Hero and the Blues, his masterpiece of jazz criticism Stomping the Blues, and eight previously uncollected pieces.
The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader
Wells, Ida B. 2014. The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader. Edited by Mia Bay and Henry Louis Gates Jr.. Penguin Classics. Abstract

Seventy-one years before Rosa Parks’s courageous act of resistance, police dragged a young black journalist named Ida B. Wells off a train for refusing to give up her seat. The experience shaped Wells’s career, and—when hate crimes touched her life personally—she mounted what was to become her life’s work: an anti-lynching crusade that captured international attention.

This volume covers the entire scope of Wells’s remarkable career, collecting her early writings, articles exposing the horrors of lynching, essays from her travels abroad, and her later journalism. The Light of Truth is both an invaluable resource for study and a testament to Wells’s long career as a civil rights activist.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The 20th Century Part 1: The Impact of Africa
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and David Bindman, ed. 2014. The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The 20th Century Part 1: The Impact of Africa. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Abstract
In the 1960s, art patrons Dominique and Jean de Menil founded an image archive showing the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art from the ancient world to modern times. Highlights from the image archive, accompanied by essays written by major scholars, appeared in three large-format volumes, consisting of one or more books, that quickly became collector's items. A half-century later, Harvard University Press and the Du Bois Institute are proud to have republished five of the original books and to present five completely new ones, extending the series into the twentieth century.

The Impact of Africa, the first of two books on the twentieth century, looks at changes in the Western perspective on African art and the representation of Africans, and the paradox of their interpretation as simultaneously "primitive" and "modern." The essays include topics such as the new medium of photography, African influences on Picasso and on Josephine Baker's impression of 1920s Paris, and the influential contribution of artists from the Caribbean and Latin American diasporas.
The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The 20th Century Part 2: The Rise of Black Artists
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and David Bindman, ed. 2014. The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V: The 20th Century Part 2: The Rise of Black Artists. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Abstract
In the 1960s, art patrons Dominique and Jean de Menil founded an image archive showing the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art from the ancient world to modern times. Highlights from the image archive, accompanied by essays written by major scholars, appeared in three large‐format volumes, consisting of one or more books, that quickly became collector’s items. A half‐century later, Harvard University Press and the Du Bois Institute are proud to have republished five of the original books and five completely new ones, extending the series into the twentieth century.

The Rise of Black Artists, the second of two books on the twentieth century and the final volume in The Image of the Black in Western Art, marks an essential shift in the series and focuses on representation of blacks by black artists in the West. This volume takes on important topics ranging from urban migration within the United States to globalization, to Négritude and cultural hybridity, to the modern black artist’s relationship with European aesthetic traditions and experimentation with new technologies and media. Concentrating on the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean, essays in this volume shed light on topics such as photography, jazz, the importance of political activism to the shaping of black identities, as well as the post-black art world.
African American National Biography
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, ed. 2013. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press. Abstract
The African American National Biography presents history through a mosaic of the lives of thousands of individuals, illuminating the abiding influence of persons of African descent on the life of this nation from the arrival of Esteban in Spanish Florida in 1529 through to notable black citizens of the present day.

The original eight-volume set has now been expanded to twelve handsome volumes in its second edition, bringing the total number of lives profiled to nearly 5,000. The AANB continues to grow along with the field of African American biographical research, providing for continuous updates to the online edition, each entry written and signed by distinguished scholars. This is a remarkable achievement, a tenfold increase over the number of biographies contained in 2004's award-winning and substantial African American Lives, and featuring such notable new entries as Cory Booker, C. Vivian Stringer, and Michelle Obama.

In addition to Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King Jr., the AANB includes a wide range of African Americans from all time periods and all walks of life. Lives profiled include those already recognized as giants of black history, figures whose stories have never been told and that readers will be discovering for the first time, and living people who are shaping the era in which we now live. The names within are both famous and nearly-forgotten. In the words of AANB editor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "These stories, long buried in the dusty archives of history, will never be lost again. And that is what scholarship in the field of African American Studies should be all about."
The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Claude Steele, Lawrence D. Bobo, Michael Dawson, Gerald Jaynes, Lisa Crooms-Robinson, and Linda Darling-Hammond, ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present. Oxford University Press. Abstract

When newly-liberated African American slaves attempted to enter the marketplace and exercise their rights as citizens of the United States in 1865, few, if any, Americans expected that, a century and a half later, the class divide between black and white Americans would be as wide as it is today. The United States has faced several potential key turning points in the status of African Americans over the course of its history, yet at each of these points the prevailing understanding of African Americans and their place in the economic and political fabric of the country was at best contested and resolved on the side of second-class citizenship.

The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present seeks to answer the question of what the United States would look like today if, at the end of the Civil War, freed slaves had been granted full political, social and economic rights. It does so by tracing the historical evolution of African American experiences, from the dawn of Reconstruction onward, through the perspectives of sociology, political science, law, economics, education and psychology. As a whole, the book is the first systematic study of the gap between promise and performance of African Americans since 1865. Over the course of thirty-four chapters, written by some of the most eminent scholars of African American studies and across every major social discipline, this handbook presents a full and powerful portrait of the particular hurdles faced by African Americans and the distinctive contributions African Americans have made to the development of U.S. institutions and culture. As such, it tracks where African Americans have been in order to better illuminate the path ahead.

Projects