Henry Louis Gates Jr., known for his work tracing the ancestral roots of some of the country’s most famous celebrities, was awarded the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award from the Creativity Collaboration during a recent ceremony at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, was chosen for the award for his work in the areas of arts and criticism, humanities and historical research, genetic science, documentary film and public service.
The Harvard historian has authored or co-authored 22 books and created 18 documentary films. His six-part documentary, “The African American: Many Rivers to Cross,” aired on PBS and won an Emmy Award for outstanding historical program.
Previous recipients of the prize, which honors the most gifted and creative thinkers, innovators and professional catalysts in all areas of human endeavor, include Sandra Day O’Connor, Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma, Ted Turner, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Johnnetta Cole.
Gates joined the faculty at Harvard University in 1991 after teaching at Duke University, Cornell University and Yale University.