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Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Building His Own Success Story

AARP’s Harriette Cole sits down with distinguished professor, genealogist and author for episode of ‘Real Conversations With AARP’

Video run time is 58 minutes. This is a recording of a live event from March 19, 2024. References to participation in the chat no longer apply.
AARP Studios

The charismatic Henry Louis Gates Jr., 73, is a globally recognized scholar of race, culture, African American history and literature. He’s found enormous success in his PBS series on genealogy and genetics, Finding Your Roots in which he's interviewed Valerie Bertinelli, LeVar BurtonMichael DouglasDionne Warwick and Sammy Hagar. (AARP is a corporate sponsor of this season of the show.) 

Gates, who often introduces himself as Skip, is the world’s foremost scholar of African American literature, and is so expertly published that he helped expand the canon of American literature taught at universities to include Black authors such as Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison. He sat down with AARP's Harriette Cole in a March 19, 2024, episode of Real Conversations With AARP, in which he talks about his upbringing, education and legacy. 

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About Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Gates is the director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University and serves as the Alphonse Fletcher university professor. Over the course of his accomplished career, Gates has held professorships at Yale, Cornell, Duke and Harvard. Gates is a graduate of Yale and the University of Cambridge and holds numerous honorary degrees. Gates made history as the first African American scholar to receive the National Humanities Medal and is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. Outside his decorated life in academia, Gates is an Emmy and a Peabody Award–winning filmmaker. His groundbreaking series, Finding Your Roots, is in its 10th season on PBS and has become a revered source for guiding people along the journey of discovering their genealogy and family history. His book The Black Box: Writing the Race debuted in March.

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