Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, Harvard University Professor, journalist, cultural critic, and author Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will speak on the Furman University campus Thursday, March 30 at 5:30 p.m. in Shaw Hall of Younts Conference Center.
The talk, “Black America Since MLK: A Conversation with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,” is free and open to the public. It is presented by Furman’s Riley Institute and Department of Politics and International Affairs, with support from South Carolina ETV. Seating is limited for the Cultural Life Program event.
The conversation with Gates opens with a 30-minute screening of highlights from his documentary Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise. Gates’ talk is hosted by Beryl Dakers, a long-time leader in cultural programming and outreach at South Carolina ETV.
“Imagine if Martin Luther King woke up and asked, ‘What’s happened since I’ve been gone?’ What would you say? That is the conceit of the series,” explains Gates. His hope is that white America and black America will listen as black people talk to each other about what their lives mean and the significance of events like inner city violence and police relationships.
Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. He has authored or co-authored 21 books and created 16 documentary films, including Wonders of the African World, African American Lives, Faces of America, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots, for which series four is currently in production.
His six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program, as well as the Peabody Award, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, and NAACP Image Award.
Gates’ latest documentary series is Africa’s Great Civilizations, which first aired in February this year. In 2016, Gates produced the four-hour PBS documentary, Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise. A companion book, which he co-authored with Kevin M. Burke, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2015.
Having written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and TIME, Gates now serves as chairman of TheRoot, 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.
The recipient of 55 honorary degrees and numerous prizes, 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 awarded the National Humanities Medal. He was named to TIME magazine’s “25 Most Influential Americans” in 1997, to Ebony’s “Power 150” list in 2009, and its “Power 100” list in 2010 and 2012.
He earned a bachelor’s in English language and literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973, and his master’s and doctorate in English literature from the University of Cambridge in 1979.
For more information about the event, contact the Riley Institute at 864-294-3546. Or contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.