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26th Annual Governor's Lecture in the Humanities: October 12, 2021 at 7 p.m. Central

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on “Finding Your Roots”

Credit: Stephanie Berger

Historian, filmmaker, popular PBS host, and renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was the featured speaker for the 26th annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha beginning at 7 p.m. central. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Professor Gates appeared via live feed virtually, which allowed him to converse with moderator William G. Thomas III, Angle Chair in the Humanities at UNL, and answer questions from the audience. The event was presented by Humanities Nebraska (HN), with co-sponsors including Union Pacific and the University of Nebraska. Livestreaming was hosted by Nebraska Public Media. 

“Finding Your Roots,” Gates’ groundbreaking genealogy and genetics series, is now in its seventh season on PBS. As an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Gates has produced and hosted more than twenty documentary films, including the recent “The Black Church” on PBS and “Black Art: In the Absence of Light” for HBO. Professor Gates’ most recent books are “Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow,” and “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song.” At Harvard University, he is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

Co-chaired by HN board member Beth Whited and former board member Mary Lopez, a benefit reception prior to the free public lecture raised $187,000+, important funding for HN’s statewide humanities programs. 

Humanities Nebraska thanks to an anonymous sponsor for major support.

Thank you to our 2021 co-sponsors

Union Pacific Logo
University of Nebraska Logo

Thank you to our 2021 Visionary Benefactors:

Thank you to our 2021 Grand Benefactors:


Thank you to our 2021 Benefactors:

History of Nebraska's Annual Governor's Lecture in the Humanities

In 1996, Humanities Nebraska collaborated with Governor Ben Nelson to establish the Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, an annual event to demonstrate the importance of the humanities in public life. His successors, Governors Mike Johanns, Dave Heineman, and Pete Ricketts have continued to enthusiastically support this lecture series, which is free and open to the public. The lecture features a nationally renowned speaker and is preceded by a benefit dinner. Each year the event alternates between Lincoln and Omaha. When held in Lincoln, the Governor’s Lecture is affiliated with the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues lecture series at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. In addition to bringing a nationally recognized speaker to Nebraska and building a strong working relationship with Nebraska’s governor, the Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities increases public visibility for Humanities Nebraska and its programs and generates income for statewide humanities programs. Annually, Humanities Nebraska honors individuals, institutions, businesses and communities with the Sower Award in the Humanities for contributions to public understanding of the humanities in Nebraska, based on nominations and letters of support from the citizens of Nebraska. The Sower Award is an original bronze sculpture by Nebraska artist Sondra Dunn Mahoney.