Henry Louis Gates Jr. Speaks in Tacoma on “Genealogy and Genetics”

Photo courtesy of University of Puget Sound.


Submitted by University of Puget Sound

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the renowned historian, author, and filmmaker, popularly known for his Public Broadcasting Service series Finding Your Roots, will speak at University of Puget Sound on Friday, Sept. 26.

A theorist and cultural critic and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, Gates is a university professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He has influenced generations with his writing, teaching, television shows, and documentary films.

The public lecture, “Genealogy and Genetics,” will start at 4:00 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 26, in Memorial Fieldhouse. The talk is sponsored by the Susan Resneck Pierce Lectures in Public Affairs and the Arts and will also be a keynote speech for Puget Sound’s 2014 Race & Pedagogy National Conference. Ticket information and a link to a campus map are below.

A prolific writer over a span of 30 years, Gates is the author of 16 books, the creator of 13 documentary films, and the writer of numerous articles in academic journals and in mainstream media, such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and TIME magazine. His extraordinary career has garnered him more than 50 honorary degrees, a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and a National Humanities Medal, among other honors. His PBS film, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, earned the 2013 Peabody Award and NAACP Image Award.

Gates’ most recent books are Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513–2008  (Random House, 2011) and Black in Latin America (New York University Press, 2011). His well-received PBS series, Finding Your Roots, which he hosts, writes, and produces, begins a new season in September 2014, and will cover the family history of celebrities including Courtney B. Vance, Stephen King, Anderson Cooper, Angela Bassett, Billy Jean King, David Sedaris, and George Stephanopoulos.

In 2010 Gates told National Public Radio that his goal in producing Finding Your Roots is two-fold: “First, to show that we’re all immigrants, and secondly, that we’re all mixed—that we have been intermarrying, or interrelated sexually from the dawn of human history.”

Gates is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was named one of TIME magazine’s “25 Most Influential Americans” in 1997 and one of EBONY magazine’s “100 Most Influential Black Americans” in 2005. In addition to authoring books and articles, he has co-edited four encyclopedias and biographical dictionaries, and edited several literary anthologies.

Gates earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in English literature from University of Cambridge in Great Britain. He received a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University. Before joining the faculty of Harvard in 1991, he taught at Yale, Cornell, and Duke universities.

The Susan Resneck Pierce Lectures in Public Affairs and the Arts brings intellectuals, public figures, writers, and artists to the university to present challenging ideas that stimulate further exploration and discussion on campus.

Past Pierce lecturers have included The Washington Post political writer E.J. Dionne; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz; Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka; economist Robert Reich; author Carlos Fuentes; psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison; filmmaker Spike Lee; the Hon. Cory Booker, United States Senator; political commentator David Brooks; The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; playwright Edward Albee; race and religion scholar Cornel West; musician Philip Glass; playwright Suzan-Lori Parks; and dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp.

Order tickets online, from Sept. 10 onward, at tickets.pugetsound.edu, or call Wheelock Information Center at 253-879-3100 to purchase with a credit card. Admission is $20 for the general public and free for Puget Sound faculty and staff, but tickets must be ordered in advance. Attendees to the 2014 Race & Pedagogy National Conference enter free, after their purchase of one-day or three-day tickets to the conference.


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