Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. to deliver 2015 Peabody-Smithgall lecture

Peabody-winning Harvard professor to speak on “Genealogy, Genetics, and Race”

The University of Georgia’s Peabody Awards will present its sixth Peabody-Smithgall Lecture on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. at the historic Morton Theatre in downtown Athens. Peabody-winning historian, TV personality and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be this year’s featured speaker.

Gates’ lecture, “Genealogy, Genetics, and Race,” is sponsored in part by the Morton Theatre Corporation (MTC), UGA Institute for African American Studies and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, and will be featured as part of The University of Georgia Signature Lecture series. The event is admission free and open to the general public as well as UGA students, faculty and staff. Seating is limited to the first 500 attendees. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. Guests are advised to park in the Washington Street Building Deck.

“Henry Louis Gates is a rare combination, an intellectual and historian who is also an entertainer,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, director of the Peabody Awards. “The television programs he produces and hosts have popular immediacy and lasting scholarly value. He's an ideal choice to deliver our sixth Peabody-Smithgall lecture.”

Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard. He is the author of 17 books and has created 14 television programs, among them the documentary “Wonders of the African World” and the series “Finding Your Roots.” His six-part documentary series, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), won an Emmy, a duPont-Columbia University Award and an NAACP Image Award as well as a Peabody.

Gates has written for such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times and Time. He is editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine, and oversees the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field. “The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader,” a collection on his writings, was published in 2012. His latest book is “Finding Your Roots: The Official Companion to the PBS Series,” released by the University of North Carolina Press in 2014.

The Peabody-Smithgall Lecture is named in honor of Mrs. Lessie Bailey Smithgall and her late husband, Charles Smithgall.  In the late 1930s, Mrs. Smithgall introduced Lambdin Kay, General Manager of Atlanta’s WSB Radio, and John Drewry, Dean of the University of Georgia’s School of Journalism.  Their efforts led to the establishment of the George Foster Peabody Awards at the University.  In 2003, the Smithgalls endowed the Lambdin Kay Chair for the Peabodys, now held by Peabody Director Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones.  The Peabody-Smithgall Lecture is supported with funds from the Lambdin Kay Chair.

Peabody is an organization dedicated to invigorating people through the power of stories. Founded in 1940, Peabody honors and extends conversation around stories that matter in radio, television, and digital media through symposiums, screenings, podcasts and an annual awards ceremony considered to be among the most prestigious in the entertainment industry. Peabody gives awards for news, entertainment, documentaries, children’s programming, education, interactive programming, and public service, in turn, encouraging the media industries to reach for and achieve the highest standards. Peabody is administered through the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at The University of Georgia. For more information, visit peabodyawards.com or follow @PeabodyAwards on Twitter.

Date: October 1, 2015

Contact:  Noel Holston, nholston@uga.edu