Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Fairmont State Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series begins this fall with one of the most prominent academics in the U.S. today: Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Gates will speak at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, in the Turley Center Ballroom. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call (304) 367-4215.

Fairmont State's Celebration of Culture and Ideas Lecture Series brings nationally prominent speakers of diverse viewpoints to campus each fall and spring. This year's lineup also includes Robin Wright (March 6, 2006), "The Trip to Bountiful" and Steve Bell (April 6, 2006). (March 27, 2006). Past speakers for the series include Cornel West, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Tucker Carlson, Michael Moore, Oliver North, James Carville and Maya Angelou. A sign language interpreter will be present at each lecture for the hearing impaired.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. has drawn the world's attention to Harvard's Afro-American Studies program since he took over as its chair in 1991. He has, by many scholars' accounts, taken African American studies beyond the ideological bent of the 1970s and 1980s black power movement and brought it into a scholarly sphere that is equivalent to all other disciplines.

At Harvard, Gates is the W.E.B. DuBois Professor of the Humanities, Chair of the Afro-American Studies Department and Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Studies. Gates assembled an incredibly knowledgeable and respected group of Afro-American intellectuals including Cornel West, William Julius Wilson, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham.

Gates graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History from Yale University and went on to earn both his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge. He has held professional appointments at Yale, Cornell and Duke prior to accepting his current position at Harvard.

Gates has published numerous works in periodicals such as Time, The New Yorker and Transitions magazines. Additionally, Gates has authored several books including, "Wonders of the African World," "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man," "Colored People: A Memoir," "The Signifying Monkey" and "Figures in Black." The accomplishment of which he is most proud is the publishing of "Encarta Africana." Over the course of 25 years, he researched, funded and published this 2 million word, pan-African encyclopedia with the help of his friend, Dwame Appiah. "Encarta Africana" deals with everything from the history of slave trade as early as the 16th century to today's popular hip-hop music.

A member of the American Philosophical Society, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the African Literature Association and the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, Gates also serves on numerous academic and civic boards and committees.

In 1997 he was named one of Time magazine's "25 most influential Americans." He has received a number of other honors, including the Zora Neale Hurston Society Award for Cultural Scholarship, the Golden Plate Achievement Award and the George Polk Award for Social Commentary. Gates was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 and received the President's Medal of the Humanities in 1998.