Henry Louis Gates, Jr,. editor of THE ROOT, has been awarded the 2009 Ralph Lowell Award, public television’s most prestigious honor. Announced today by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Lowell Award is intended to celebrate an individual’s outstanding accomplishments and lifelong contributions to the development of public broadcasting.
Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET.ORG, said “Professor Gates is an extraordinary storyteller and THIRTEEN is proud to be his co-producing partner since 2005. His work has touched people all across the country igniting in them a desire to discover who they are and where they come from.”
Professor Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. professor of African American Studies at Harvard University and the producer, writer and host of the critically acclaimed PBS documentaries “African American Lives“, “Oprah’s Roots: An African American Lives Special” and “African American Lives 2”. He is the first filmmaker to employ genealogy and genetic science to provide an understanding of African American history. His other PBS programs include “Great Rail Journeys: From Great Zimbabwe to Kilimatinde”, “Frontline: The Two Nations of Black America“, “Leaving Cleaver“, “Wonders of the African World“, and “America Beyond the Color Line“.
Professor Gates is currently hard at work on his next PBS project, “Faces of America”, which will expand the role of DNA science as it relates to a new set of Americans exploring identity on the television screen.
The prize has as special significance for longtime readers of THE ROOT. Gates’ most recent film, “Looking for Lincoln”, explores many of the issues broached in essays published right here on THE ROOT. And Gates’ “African American Lives” series, which aired on PBS from 2006 to 2008, and produced tears and shouts from famous faces like actor Chris Tucker, actress Whoopi Goldberg and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, also brought countless readers and amateur geneaologists to THE ROOT, where users tracked their ancestry, in many cases opening worlds and histories that were previously unknown.
THE ROOT congratulates Skip, our intrepid editor-in-chief, for his decades of meaningful contributions to black culture and academia.