Author: Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. (b. 1950) is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he also directs the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Born in Keyser, West Virginia, Gates graduated from Yale University and was the first African American to be awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, allowing him to earn a Ph.D. in English literature from Clare College, Cambridge. In addition to writing and editing many books on literary theory and African and African American culture, he has also written, produced, and narrated many documentaries for PBS, including Wonders of the African World (1998) and Faces of America (2010).  

Growing Up Colored

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

In his personal memoir (2012), “Growing Up Colored,” the distinguished literary critic, educator, author, and director of Harvard University’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Henry Louis Gates Jr. (b. 1950), describes his boyhood in Piedmont, West Virginia “where I learned to be a colored boy.” In the short concluding passages excerpted here, Gates speaks about his sense of identity half a century—and much personal acclaim—later.