Last week, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, and Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), signed a collaborative agreement to realize the objectives of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent in Latin America—recognition, justice, and development for Afrodescendants in the Americas. The agreement will be implemented by the Afro-Latin American Research Institute (ALARI) at Harvard and by the Department of Social Inclusion at OAS.

Photo by Melissa Blackall

The ceremony took place at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art against the backdrop of an exhibition of the work of Afro-Cuban artist Roberto Diago, curated by Professor Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History, Economics and Professor of African and African American Studies and director of ALARI. De la Fuente served as the host of the event. After the signing, Almagro named Gates a goodwill ambassador for the rights of people of African descent in the Americas, saying that “his work has widened the acceptance of African American and African Diasporic studies, and has given it more recognition as a serious field of study.”

Photo by Melissa Blackall

Gates mixed professional and personal history on accepting the goodwill ambassadorship, concluding by saying, “It is with a great deal of honor, but a great deal of humility and an enormous sense of responsibility that I accept the trust that you’ve conferred upon me.”

Photo by Melissa Blackall