Henry Louis Gates, Jr

Alphonse Fletcher University Professor


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. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has authored or co-authored twenty-one books and created fifteen documentary films, including Wonders of the African World, African American Lives, Faces of America, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series now in its third season on PBS. His six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), which he wrote, executive produced, and hosted, earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program—Long Form, as well as the Peabody Award, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, and NAACP Image Award. Having written for such leading publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Time, Professor Gates now serves as chairman of, a daily online magazine he co-founded in 2008, while overseeing the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field. He has also received grant funding to develop a Finding Your Roots curriculum to teach students science through genetics and genealogy. In 2012, The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader, a collection of his writings edited by Abby Wolf, was published. His next film is the four-hour documentary series, And Still I Rise: Black America since MLK, airing on PBS in April 2016; a companion book, which he co-authored with Kevin M. Burke, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2015.

Dissertation Committees

“Performing While ‘Black’: African American Broadway Musicals of the 1970s and the Politics of Race” (Scott Poulson-Bryant)

“The Reusable Past: Abolitionist Aesthetics in the Protest Literature of the Long Civil Rights Movement” (Zoe Trodd)

“Peculiar Memories: Slavery and the American Cultural Imagination” (Salamishah Tillet)

“Performed Fictions: The Onstage and Offstage Lives of Bert Williams” (Camille Forbes)

“Beautiful Nightmare; Coltrane, Jazz, and American Culture” (Michael Washington)

Selected Publications

  • TheSignifyingMonkeyGatesSized

    The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (Oxford University Press, 1988), by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  • Gates - america_behind_the_color_line

    America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans (Warner Books, 2004), by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  • Gates_LooseCanons

    Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars (Oxford University Press, 1992), by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  • Gates_FiguresInBlack

    Figures in Black: Words, Signs and the ‘Racial’ Self (Oxford University Press, 1987), by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  • Gates - Finding Oprahs Roots

    Finding Oprah’s Roots: Finding Your Own (Crown Publishers, 2007), by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  • africana

    Africana: the Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience, (Basic Civitas, 1999); edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., with K. Anthony Appiah