Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher university professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, is an Emmy Award–winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder. Gates shares his life and his passions in conversation with Elizabeth Alexander, poet, essayist, playwright, and current president of the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
Gates’ 6-part 2013 PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which he wrote, executive produced, and hosted, earned the Emmy for outstanding historical program. Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series returned for a fourth season on PBS. 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, and Black in Latin America.
In honor of his commitment to education, as well as his richness of ideas and originality, he is the recipient of Smithsonian Associates’ 17th annual Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award.
The Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award recognizes and celebrates influential thinkers, innovators, and catalysts in the arts, sciences, and humanities, in both traditional and emerging disciplines. Previous recipients are Yo-Yo Ma, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Eric Kandel, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Jules Feiffer, Ted Turner, Lisa Randall, Meryl Streep, Greg Mortenson, Johnnetta Cole, Mark Morris, Bill Drayton, Shirley Tilghman, Azar Nafisi, and Tim Robbins.
The award is made possible by the Creativity Collaboration, a joint project of Smithsonian Associates and the Creativity Foundation.