Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).
Continuing on the quest begun in his previous projects, African American Lives (2006), African American Lives 2 (2008) and Faces of America (2010), Gates finds new ways to, as he says, “get into the DNA of American culture.” In each hour-long episode, he takes viewers along for the journey with one celebrity pair bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden link, treks through layers of ancestral history, uncovers secrets and surprises of their family trees and shares life-altering discoveries.
Working closely with leading U.S. genealogists (including staff of the New England Genealogical Historical Society and Johni Cerny, co-author of the acclaimed The Source: Guidebook for American Genealogy) and ancestry experts from around the world, Gates and his production team comb through family stories to discover unknown histories and relatives the guests never knew existed. When paper trails end for each story, the team turns to top geneticists and DNA diagnosticians (such as the genetic testing service 23 & Me, African Ancestry and Family Tree DNA) to analyze each participant’s genetic code, tracing their bloodlines and occasionally debunking their long-held notions and beliefs.
Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a production of Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inkwell Films and WNET in association with Ark Media. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local documentaries and other programs for the New York community.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stephen Segaller, Peter Kunhardt, and Dyllan McGee are executive producers of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Rachel Dretzin is senior producer. Leslie Asako Gladsjo is senior story editor.
Corporate funding is provided by The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s and American Express. Additional funding is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Support is also provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS.
Production Credits for the entire Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. series.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Executive Producer, Writer, Presenter
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, as well as director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He is the author of Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 (Random House, 2011) and Faces of America (New York University Press, 2010), which expands on interviews he conducted for his critically acclaimed PBS documentary series of the same name.
Professor Gates is Editor-in-Chief of TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine focusing on issues of interest to the African American community and written from an African American perspective, and the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American and Africana Studies. He is co-editor, with K. Anthony Appiah, of Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. With Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, he is the co-editor of the eight-volume biographical encyclopedia African American Lives (Oxford, 2008).
In addition, Professor Gates is the author of several works of literary criticism, including Figures in Black: Words, Signs and the ‘Racial’ Self (Oxford University Press, 1987); The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (Oxford, 1988), winner of the 1989 American Book Award; Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars (Oxford, 1992); and Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Criticism in the African Diaspora (Basic Books, 2010). He is the author of Colored People: A Memoir (Knopf, 1994), which traces his childhood experiences in a small West Virginia town in the 1950s and 1960s; The Future of the Race (Knopf, 1996), co-authored with Cornel West; Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (Random House, 1997); and In Search of Our Roots: How Nineteen Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (Crown, 2009), which won an NAACP Image Award in 2010.
An influential cultural critic, Professor Gates’ publications include a 1994 cover story for Time magazine on the new black Renaissance in art, as well as numerous articles for The New Yorker. In addition, he has edited several anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (W.W. Norton, 1996, 2nd ed., 2004), and The Oxford-Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers (Oxford, 1991), and is the co-editor of Transition magazine. Previously for PBS, Professor Gates produced and hosted Wonders of the African World (1999), America Beyond the Color Line (2004), African American Lives (2006), Oprah’s Roots (2007), African American Lives 2 (2008), Looking for Lincoln (2009), Faces of America (2010) and Black in Latin America (2011).
Professor Gates earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge. He received a B.A. in English Language and Literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973. Before joining the faculty of Harvard in 1991, he taught at Yale, Cornell and Duke Universities. Professor Gates has received 51 honorary degrees, as well as a 1981 MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award,” the 1993 George Polk Award for Social Commentary, and the 2008 Ralph Lowell Award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s highest award. In addition, Professor Gates was named one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Americans” in 1997, one of Ebony magazine’s “100 Most Influential Black Americans” in 2005 and to Ebony’s “Power 150″ list for 2009. He received a National Humanities Medal in 1998, and in 1999 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2006, he was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution after tracing his lineage back to John Redman, a Free Negro who fought in the Revolutionary War.
Finding Your Roots (PBS, March 2012)
Black in Latin America (PBS, April 2011)
Faces of America (PBS, February 2010)
Looking for Lincoln (PBS, February 2009)
African American Lives 2 (PBS, February 2008)
Oprah’s Roots: An African American Lives Special (PBS, January 2007)
African American Lives (PBS, February 2006)
America Beyond the Color Line (BBC/PBS, February 2004)
Wonders of the African World (PBS, October 1999)
Leaving Eldridge Cleaver (PBS, 1999)
The Two Nations of Black America (PBS Frontline, February 1998)
From Great Zimbabwe to Kilimantinde (BBC/PBS Great Rail Journeys, 1996)