Friday, February 14, 2020

Black History Month's Honoree - Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

As a young child growing up in Piedmont, West Virginia, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. did not know that someday he would help America celebrate its roots.

In observance of Black History Month, we salute Dr. Gates and applaud his PBS program “Finding Your Roots.”

Now a Harvard University African-American Studies professor, Dr. Gates has increased focus on America’s immigrant journeys through the family trees of celebrities, journalists, political leaders, scientists and other accomplished individuals of varied ethnic backgrounds.

With numerous African-American guests, he has illustrated the impact of “disappeared” relatives—those slaves who were never listed by name in any records. Others have discovered that they were descendants of free people of color.

In contrast, other guests have learned that their ancestors five or six generations back were slave owners.

In recognition of his ground-breaking work, Dr. Gates has received honorary degrees or awards from 53 universities, including West Virginia University. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellow “genius grant” and other prestigious accolades for his efforts as author, documentary filmmaker, essayist, literary critic and professor.


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