Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates on blackness, whiteness, and the first African-American president in the White House.

Black scholar Henry Louis Gates made headlines last summer with a local white police officer, an angry standoff, and a “beer summit” on the White House lawn. 

But Gates has made headlines all his professional life, for deep scholarship and sharp cultural interpretation. Lately, he’s been writing about roots – black roots, white roots, all kinds – as America has been engaging its first African-American president, and some criticism has become racially ugly. 

We wondered what Gates was thinking. We ask about race, roots, hard politics, and President Barack Obama.

-Tom Ashbrook


Henry Louis Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. His new book is “Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora.” His latest television program for PBS is “Faces of America.”

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