JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., acclaimed professor, author and host of the Public Broadcasting Service television series "Finding Your Roots," will explore race, culture and genealogy in a free public lecture on Thursday, March 14, at the University of North Florida (UNF). The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in Lazarra Hall. Reservations may be made online.
Mayo Clinic in Florida is sponsoring the lecture with support from the Mayo Clinic Irving S. Cooper Visiting Professorship, established by Sissel Cooper Bos and the Cooper Institute for Advanced Studies in Medicine and the Humanities in Naples, Fla. The lecture is being held to raise awareness of the award-winning multimedia exhibit "RACE: Are We So Different?" on display at the Museum of Science & History through April 28.
"The RACE exhibition gives us all, no matter what our background or color, an opportunity to examine ourselves and how we see others," says William Rupp, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida, which helped bring the exhibit to Jacksonville. "We believe Dr. Gates' lecture, like the RACE exhibit, will serve as a meaningful prompt for all of us who work at Mayo Clinic and everyone in the greater community — a prompt that will provoke thought, inspire conversation and challenge convention."
Dr. Gates' lecture is titled "Finding Your Roots: Exploring Race, Culture and Genealogy Through Poignant Family Stories." The lecture is hosted by UNF and Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History.
Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a literary critic, educator, scholar, writer and editor. He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees for his teaching, research and development of academic institutions to study black culture. In 2010 he became the first African-American to have his genome fully sequenced.
Dr. Gates has hosted several PBS television miniseries, including Wonders of the African American World, African American Lives and Faces of America. In 2008 he was the recipient of the Ralph Lowell Award, the highest honor in the field of public television. His most recent miniseries, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the inspiration for the lecture.
In addition to his film work, Dr. Gates has published novels and edited several influential anthologies, articles and essay collections, including The Norton Anthology of African American Literature and volumes on authors such as Toni Morrison and Langston Hughes.
Dr. Gates has been named one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans." He was the first African-American awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is also director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He holds a Ph.D. in English literature from Cambridge University and serves on the boards of many arts, cultural and research institutions.
RACE is the first national exhibition to tell stories of race from biological, cultural and historical points of view. It portrays the everyday experience of race in our lives and racism in the United States. Several of the exhibit's interactive components — including historical artifacts, iconic objects, compelling photographs, multimedia presentations and attractive graphic displays — offer an eye-opening look at its important subject matter.
RACE was developed in 2007 by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota. Since then, it has been featured in 30 U.S. museums, libraries and science centers, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington. Jacksonville is hosting its first stop in Florida.