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Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Headshot

Governor Edward G. Rendell Will Receive Inaugural Chairman’s Award

The Museum of the American Revolution today announced that renowned Harvard University historian and award-winning filmmaker and author Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be awarded the 2022 Lenfest Spirit of the American Revolution Award at an evening gala at the Museum on Thursday, June 9, 2022, co-chaired by Board Member Karen Dougherty Buchholz, Museum Chairman Morris W. Offit, and Board Vice Chair Martha McGeary Snider.

Gates currently serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, and as the host of the groundbreaking PBS genealogy series “Finding Your Roots.”

Individual tickets and table sponsorships can be purchased here or by calling 267.579.3478. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Museum’s educational mission to uncover and share compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government.

“We are delighted to recognize Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., who embodies the bold spirit of the American Revolution through his decades of prolific work,” said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, Museum President and CEO. “Throughout his esteemed career as both a scholar and public intellectual, he has harnessed the power of history in an accessible and relevant way that helps us understand our shared past. Professor Gates shares our vision to ensure that the Revolution’s promises of liberty and equality endure for all people.”

The Lenfest Award was created and endowed in 2016 by the Museum’s late Founding Chairman H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest to honor individuals who advance public awareness and understanding of history and its relevance in the ongoing American experiment. The Lenfest Award is presented on a semi-regular basis and may be given to an individual or to an organization active in a broad range of fields such as history, education, filmmaking, writing, media, and philanthropy.

The Museum previously presented the award to CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour and President and CEO of New-York Historical Society Dr. Louise Mirrer, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough. The award is accompanied by a $25,000 prize.

New this year, the Museum’s Board Chair Morris W. Offit will present Governor Edward G. Rendell with the inaugural Chairman’s Award in recognition of his extraordinary volunteer leadership in advancing the Museum’s mission and vision. Since the Museum’s earliest days, Governor Rendell has been a tireless advocate and supporter of the project, playing a leading role in securing its permanent location in Old City Philadelphia and chairing the successful capital campaign that exceeded its $150 million goal by nearly $25 million. A Museum Board Member since 2013, Governor Rendell remains actively committed to advancing the Museum’s influence and impact.

About Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and “institution builder” (The New Yorker), Henry Louis Gates Jr. hosts the groundbreaking genealogy and genetics series “Finding Your Roots,” now in its eighth season on PBS. His recent books include Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow and The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song. His other publications include Who Is Black and Why?: A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers, Colored People, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man, In Search of Our Roots, and the American Book Award-winning The Signifying Monkey. 

Gates has created more than 20 documentary films, most recently “The Black Church” on PBS and “Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches” for HBO. In 2013, Gates's critically acclaimed six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, traced 500 years of African American history to the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. Gates wrote, executive produced, and hosted the series, which earned the 2013 Emmy, duPont, Peabody, and NAACP Image Awards. His 2016 PBS film, Reconstruction: America After the Civil War, was also recognized with a duPont Award. In 2006, Gates was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution after tracing his lineage to John Redman, a free African American who fought in the Revolutionary War.

A native of Piedmont, West Virginia, Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in history, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973, and his master’s degree and doctorate in English literature from Clare College at Cambridge in 1979, where he is also an Honorary Fellow. He is a recipient of a number of honorary degrees, most recently a Doctor of Letters degree from his alma mater, the University of Cambridge. Gates was a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981, and in 1998 he became the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal. 

A former chair of the Pulitzer Prize board, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and serves on a wide array of boards, including the New York Public Library, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Aspen Institute, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and The Studio Museum of Harlem. In 2011, his portrait, by Yuqi Wang, was hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

 About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit or call 877.740.1776.