The Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to deliver Peabody-Smithgall Lecture on Oct. 26


Noel Holston - 10/8/2015
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to deliver Peabody-Smithgall Lecture on Oct. 26

The University of Georgia’s Peabody Awards will present its sixth Peabody-Smithgall Lecture on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. at the historic Morton Theatre in downtown Athens. Peabody-winning historian, TV personality and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be this year’s featured speaker.

Gates’ lecture, “Genealogy, Genetics and Race,” is sponsored in part by the Morton Theatre Corporation (MTC), UGA Institute for African American Studies and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, and will be featured as part of The University of Georgia Signature Lecture series. The event is admission free and open to the general public as well as UGA students, faculty and staff. Seating is limited to the first 500 attendees. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. Guests are advised to park in the Washington Street Building Deck.

“Henry Louis Gates is a rare combination, an intellectual and historian who is also an entertainer,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, director of the Peabody Awards. “The television programs he produces and hosts have popular immediacy and lasting scholarly value. He’s an ideal choice to deliver our sixth Peabody-Smithgall lecture.”

Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard. He is the author of 17 books and has created 14 television programs, among them the documentary Wonders of the African World and the series Finding Your Roots. His six-part documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), won an Emmy, a duPont-Columbia University Award and an NAACP Image Award as well as a Peabody.

Gates has written for such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times and Time. He is editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine, and oversees the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field. “The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader”, a collection on his writings, was published in 2012. His latest book is “Finding Your Roots: The Official Companion to the PBS Series”, released by the University of North Carolina Press in 2014.

Recipient of 54 honorary degrees and numerous prizes, Gates was a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981. In 1998, he became the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal. He was named to Time’s 25 Most Influential Americans list in 1997, to Ebony’s Power 150 list in 2009, and to Ebony’s Power 100 list in 2010 and 2012. He earned his B.A. in English Language and Literature, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge in 1979.

He has directed the W. E. B. Institute for African and African American Research—now the Hutchins Center—since arriving at Harvard in 1991. During his first 15 years on campus, he chaired the Department of Afro-American Studies as it expanded into the Department of African and African American Studies with a full-fledged doctoral program. He also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and serves on a wide array of boards, including the New York Public Library, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Aspen Institute, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and the Brookings Institution.

The Peabody-Smithgall Lecture is named in honor of Mrs. Lessie Bailey Smithgall and her late husband, Charles Smithgall. In the late 1930s, Mrs. Smithgall introduced Lambdin Kay, General Manager of Atlanta’s WSB Radio, and John Drewry, Dean of the University of Georgia’s School of Journalism. Their efforts led to the establishment of the George Foster Peabody Awards at the University. In 2003, the Smithgalls endowed the Lambdin Kay Chair for the Peabodys, now held by Peabody director Jeffrey P. Jones. The Peabody-Smithgall Lecture is supported with funds from the Lambdin Kay Chair.