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In honor of African American History Month, the Securities and Exchange Commission welcomed esteemed scholar and award-winning filmmaker Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. to discuss his new documentary series, “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

Dr. Gates has written a number of books and created documentary films and educational programming, including “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” and the television program “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” Dr. Gates presented a preview of his latest documentary series to SEC staff along with remarks about the lingering effects of the Reconstruction following the Civil War and a fireside chat with Chairman Jay Clayton.

When introducing Dr. Gates, Chairman Jay Clayton remarked, “I believe in our quest for a pluralistic and inclusive society where opportunity and support are broadly and fairly distributed, and our past failures—particularly in the area of race—are faced head on and provide us with the tools to do better. It is people like Dr. Gates who give us that context and enable us to communicate better, who help us on this journey.”

During a discussion about the importance of expanding economic opportunity for everyone, Dr. Gates noted the larger implications of these efforts: “If people think that they have no hope, then they do hopeless things.” He added, “We have to reshape the economy such that people believe in the future again.”

Hosted by the SEC’s African American Council and the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, Professor Gates’ presentation is part of a month-long celebration that included events in the Regional Offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York to celebrate the important contributions of African Americans to the agency and the United States.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. answered questions during a fireside chat with Chairman Jay Clayton and Glenn Hutchins, Chair of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. answered questions during a fireside chat with Chairman Jay Clayton and Glenn Hutchins, Chair of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

Esteemed scholar and award-winning filmmaker Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. gives a presentation in honor of African American History Month.</

Esteemed scholar and award-winning filmmaker Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. gives a presentation in honor of African American History Month.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (center) with Naseem Nixon and Olawale Oriola, Co-Chairs of the SEC’s African American Council.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (center) with Naseem Nixon and Olawale Oriola, Co-Chairs of the SEC’s African American Council.

Pam Gibbs, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, thanks Dr. Henry Louis Gates for his presentation with a certificate of appreciation from the SEC.

Pam Gibbs, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, thanks Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. for his presentation with a certificate of appreciation from the SEC.