Henry Louis Gates Jr. to speak at Library Foundation for Sarasota luncheon

Jay Handelman
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., executive producer and host of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” and author or co-author of 25 books, will be the featured speaker at the 2022 Library Foundation of Sarasota Love Our Libraries luncheon.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. – the author, filmmaker, college professor and journalist perhaps best known as the host of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” – will be the guest speaker for the Love Our Libraries Author Luncheon on Feb. 3, which benefits the Library Foundation for Sarasota County.

The event will be held in-person for the first time in two years at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, 801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Earlier this year, best-selling author Susan Orlean took part in a virtual program.

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Library Foundation Executive Director Alisa Mitchell said Gates’ talk will mark the 10th anniversary of the author luncheon. The foundation has presented such writers as Bob Woodward, James Patterson, David Brooks, Cokie Roberts and humorist Dave Barry.

Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

He has written or co-authored 25 books and created 23 documentary films that include “African World,” “African American Lives,” “Black America since MLK” and “Still I Rise.” He won an Emmy Award for outstanding historical program for the 2013 six-part PBS documentary series “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.” 

Earlier this year, he published “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song,” and was the host and executive producer of a two-part PBS documentary version. The Washington Post wrote that “Gates enlightens us by revealing the relevance and resonance of Black church traditions in a country still falling short of its initial promise that all people are created equal.”

He is chairman of, a daily online magazine, which he co-founded in 2008, and he oversees the Oxford African American Studies Center. He also was in the first class to receive the so-called “genius grants” awarded by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981. 

In “Finding your Roots,” which premiered in 2012, Gates helps celebrities explore their genealogical backgrounds. His subjects have included Barbara Walters, the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Affleck, part-time Sarasota resident Stephen King, Billie Jean King and songwriter Carole King.

Tickets for the luncheon start at $150 and sponsorships are available. For more information: 941-404-3139;

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