Henry Louis Gates Jr. during his acceptance speech after winning the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for his PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
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The Root’s editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., was one of 14 recipients Tuesday night of an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, with Gates honored for his PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. The six-part documentary explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed—forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds.

“Just thinking about the events at Ferguson, Staten Island and the Black Lives Matter campaign, it’s clear to see that the great span of black history has never had more relevance than it does right now,” Gates said during his acceptance speech. “Maya Angelou put it best when she said that ‘history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived but, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.’” 

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross has also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Programming—Long Form, the Peabody Award and an NAACP Image Award and is currently available on DVD.