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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Events March 13, 2017

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Will Offer Presidential Colloquium

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on stage at Smith

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—a preeminent scholar and cultural critic who leads the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard—will offer thoughts on “Black America Since MLK” in a Presidential Colloquium at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 27.

Gates will begin the event by screening excerpts from his new documentary, Black America Since MLK, which looks at the last 50 years of the civil rights movements. Following the screening, Gates will talk with President Kathleen McCartney about the film and about broader issues related to civil rights.

The event, which will take place in Weinstein Auditorium, is open to the public at no charge, and no tickets are required. (In case of a full house, the event will be streamed to the Carroll Room at the Campus Center.)

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. An Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic and institution builder, Gates has authored or co-authored 21 books and created 15 documentary films, including Wonders of the African World, African American Lives, Faces of America, Black in Latin America. Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series, is now in its third season on PBS.

Gates’ 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, 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 Rootscurriculum to teach students science through genetics and genealogy.

The recipient of numerous prizes and honorary degrees, Gates was a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981. In 1998, he became the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal.

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, he 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 and the Aspen Institute.

Gates earned his B.A. in English language and literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973 and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge in 1979.