Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr., Louis Smith Gates

In 2013, Dr. Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. (1950–    ), became the founding director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. In 2006, he became a University Professor (one of only twenty), filling the Alphonse Fletcher professorship at Harvard, where he previously had been the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Humanities, professor of English, and chairman of the Department of Afro-American Studies. 

Originally named Louis Smith Gates—for his father, Henry Louis Gates, and for his mother’s best friend, Olivia Smith—at the age of twenty-five, he formally adopted his father’s name. He earned a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Yale University (1973) and master's and doctoral degrees from Clare College, The University of Cambridge (1979), after which he taught English, literature, and African studies at Yale (1979–1984), Cornell University (1985–1990), and Duke University (1989–1991). 

Moving from Duke to Harvard in 1991, he worked with other academics to establish the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute as a leading public policy think tank and chaired The Black Periodical Fiction Project based at Harvard. In addition to having written, co-written, and edited more than 20 books—Black Literature and Literary Theory (1984),Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (1997), The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, third edition (2014), Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow (2019)—and written for national magazines and journals, he has created at least fifteen documentary films, such as Wonders of the African World (1999), African American Lives (2006–2008), Faces of America (2010), Black in Latin America (2011), The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013; recipient of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program—Long), and Finding Your Roots (2019). In 2008, he co-founded a daily online magazine, TheRoot.com. He also became editor-in-chief of the first comprehensive scholarly online resource, Oxford African American Studies Center. Henry Louis Gates has received more than 50 honorary degrees and multiple awards, including a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" (1981), the National Humanities Medal (1998; first African American to receive this award), and the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award (2015). 

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