Although he has been well-known as a leading scholar of African-American literature, history and culture since the 80's, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. became endeared to the American public through his television PBS special mini-series, especially ‘African American Lives’ that he hosted in 2006 and 2008. As host of the show, he explored the genealogy of prominent African Americans and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey. He continued to build his reputation in part on his talents as a researcher and later went on to broaden his scope and traced ancestry of all races. Reruns of his shows and his most recent documentary 'Black in Latin America' have continued to gain widespread acclaim and appeal.
Gates graduated from Yale University in 1973 with a degree in history and continued his education at Clare College, which is part of Cambridge University in England. He finished his doctorate degree in 1979 to become the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from the university. Bearing many titles, Gates is an educator, literary critic, scholar, writer, editor, executive producer, author and presenter. He was the first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his teaching, research, and development of academic institutions to study black culture. Gates sits on the boards of many notable arts, cultural, and research institutions. He is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is also director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.