Henry Louis Gates Jr., editor-in-chief of The Root, is among the winners of the 73rd annual Peabody Awards for his PBS documentary series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.
Peabody winners were announced live Wednesday on CBS This Morning, the first live television unveiling of Peabody awardees since the inception of the awards. While the CBS anchors did not have time to go through all the winners, Gates’ award was announced on the Peabody website.
“This is a great victory of all of us that love African-American history and those of us that want to see it become an explicably intertwined part of American culture,” Gates said. “This [documentary] took five years and is a great victory for our ancestors and their sacrifices, and they should be celebrated every day in a school curriculum, and my hope is that the DVD will be used in every classroom from kindergarten to college. I want to thank my production team—Dyllan Mcgee, Rachel Dretzin, Asako Gladsjo.”
Author and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a Peabody Award recipient and Peabody board member, and Ira Glass, also a Peabody winner and executive producer of the Chicago Public Media series This American Life, announced the honorees. Each award recipient will receive a certificate and $10,000. Glass will emcee the May 19 awards ceremony, where former NBC Nightly News anchor and author Tom Brokaw will be recognized with an individual award for his career achievements. Later in the year, Pivot TV will air highlights from the ceremony, which is to be held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
The Peabody Awards, long considered to be the Oscars of media, are the oldest awards in broadcasting. The Peabody, created in 1940 by the University of Georgia Grady School of Journalism because there was no Pulitzer Prize for radio broadcasting, searches for “storytelling done well” and honors “stories that matter.” The award signifies excellence on television, radio and the Internet.
The awards differ from many other awards because there are no specific categories; the Peabody board looks to judge each entry on its own merit. The entire 16-judge panel must agree on the winners, which can lead to intense discussions and months of debate.
Another notable documentary among the Peabody winners is 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School, a documentary broadcast on PBS that chronicles life at Washington Metropolitan, aka DC Met, a high school in a high-poverty section of Washington, D.C. It is an intimate look at the challenges that students and teachers face daily.
Other Peabody Award winners include Key & Peele, Orange Is the New Black, Scandal, House of Cards, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and Orphan Black.
While it is rare that a television show earns more than one award, Breaking Bad will be honored with its second award in May.
To see the complete list of winners, click here.