Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. He received a degree in history from Yale University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in 1979. He is a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. He began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. He rediscovered what is believed to be the first novel published by an African-American in the United States. He republished the 1859 work by Harriet E. Wilson, entitled Our Nig, in 1983. He has written numerous books including Colored People: A Memoir, A Chronology of African-American History, The Future of the Race, Black Literature and Literary Theory, and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. In 1991, he became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university. He wrote and produced several documentaries including Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and African American Lives. He has also hosted PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots.
Richard J. Ellis is the Mark O. Hatfield Professor of Politics at Willamette University. Among his recent books are Judging the Boy Scouts of America: Gay Rights, Freedom of Association, and the Dale Case; The Development of the American Presidency; Presidential Travel: The Journey from George Washington to George W. Bush; Judging Executive Power: Sixteen Supreme Court Cases that have Shaped the American Presidency, and Debating Reform: Conflicting Perspectives on How to Fix the American Political System, 2nd Ed. In 2008 he was named the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching Oregon Professor of the Year.