Press Release 9.26.03

For immediate release
For more information, contact:     

Kathy Rowan 704.541.7529 or

Stephanie Ansaldo 704.347.3844

The Echo Foundation Brings Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to Charlotte; Noted Scholar, Literary Critic to Hold Public Lecture, Student Dialogue Nov. 11th

September 26, 2003 (Charlotte, NC) – Henry Louis (Skip) Gates, Jr., chair of Harvard’s African and Afro-American Studies department and director of W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, will be in Charlotte, Tues, Nov. 11th for a public lecture, student dialogue and an adult leadership forum as part of The Echo Foundation’s “Voices Against Indifference Initiative.” Nobel Laureate for literature Wole Soyinka will introduce Gates’ lecture, “W.E.B. Du Bois and the Encyclopedia Africana,” at 7 p.m. at Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. Call 704.347.3844 for patron tickets ($65), which include a pre-event reception with Gates and Soyinka at the Noel Gallery, 401 N. Tryon St.

The “Voices Against Indifference Initiative” is an Echo Foundation program that brings speakers to Charlotte whose personal experience illuminates the power of the individual to have a positive impact on humanity through moral courage, action and words.

Gates will share his story in several community venues on Nov. 11th. Some 400 students and teachers from Charlotte area private and public high schools are studying curriculum materials to prepare for the Gates dialogue at Providence Day School from 11:15 – 12:30 p.m. Plans are also underway for an adult leadership forum with Gates about social capital issues, and he will be the featured guest on “Charlotte Talks” with Mike Collins at 9 a.m. on WFAE Radia (90.7 FM).

A relentless and outspoken champion for tolerance through understanding, Gates has earned numerous awards and accolades for broadening the discourse on African American literature and cultural tradition in his various roles as an educator, scholar, literary critic and writer. One recent accomplishment, the completion of Encarta Africana, is the result of his 25-year quest to realize the dream of W.E.B. Du Bois. The renowned early 20th century black intellectual and civil rights leader envisioned a comprehensive encyclopedia about the entire black world that could be used as an instrument to fight racism by building greater awareness and understanding of the African culture. The 2.25 billion-word encyclopedia project, co-edited by Gates and Princeton professor K. Anthony Appiah, and published in hardbound print and CD ROM format, was dedicated in memory of Du Bois and in honor of Nelson Mandela on Martin Luther King’s birthday, Jan. 19, 1999.


NOTE TO EDITORS: The following pages includes more detailed information about Gates and The Echo Foundation. Photos are available through The Echo Foundation at 704.347.3844
CONTACT INFORMATION: Kathy Rowan: (W) 704.333.3924 (H) 704.541.7529 (Cell) 704.591.8945 (e-mail) [email protected] or Stephanie Ansaldo: 704.347.3844
W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University
Chair of Afro-American Studies
Director of the W.E.B. Du

Professor Gates is co-editor with K. Anthony Appiah of the encyclopedia Encarta Africana published on CD-ROM by Microsoft (1999), and in book form by Basic Civitas Books under the title Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (1999). He is the author of Wonders of the African World (1999), the book companion to the six-hour BBC/PBS television series of the same name.

Professor Gates is the author of several works of literary criticism, including Figures in Black: Words, signs and the ‘Racial’ Self (Oxford University Press, 1987); The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (Oxford, 1988), 1989 winner of the American Book Award; and loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars (Oxford, 1992.) He has also authored Colored People: A Memoir (Knopf, 1994), which traces his childhood experiences in a small West Virginia town in the 1950s and 1960s; The Future of the Race (Knopf, 1996), co-authored with Cornel West; and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (Random House, 1997). Professor Gates has edited several anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (W.W. Norton, 1996); and The Oxford-Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers(Oxford, 1991). In addition, Professor Gates is co-editor of Transition magazine. An influential cultural critic, Professor Gates’ publications include a 1994 cover story for Time magazine on the new black Renaissance in art, as well as numerous articles for The New Yorker.

Professor Gates earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge. He received a B.A. summa cum laude from Yale University in 1973 in English Language and Literature. Before joining the faculty of Harvard in 1991, he taught at Yale, Cornell, and Duke Universities. His honors and grants include a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” (1981), the George Polk Award for Social Commentary (1993), Chicago Tribune Heartland Award (1994), the Golden Place Achievement Award (1995), Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Americans” list (1997), a National Humanities Medal (1998), and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letter (1999.)

The Echo Foundation was founded in 1997 to carry on a message that Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel brought to Charlotte that year – a call to action for human dignity, justice and moral courage. Its mission is “to sponsor and facilitate those voices which speak of human dignity, justice and moral courage in a way that will lead to positive action for humankind.”

Some recent Echo Foundation Voices Against Indifference Initiative guest speakers include: Columbia Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs (2003), Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka (2002), Human Rights Advocate Kerry Kennedy Cuomo (2001), and Chinese Dissident Harry Wu (2000).

The Echo Foundation will present its fifth annual Echo Award Dinner on February 24, 2004. The dinner keynote speaker is Bernard Kouchner, founder of Doctors Without Borders.