Mysterious Convocation Cancellation: Henry Louis Gates Jr.

by Connor Parks

For all those confused about the circumstances regarding next week’s highly awaited Henry Louis Gates Jr. Convocation, slated to be this year’s Press Distinguished Lecture, there’s both good and bad news. Unfortunately, though not yet publicly announced to Centre’s student body, it has been confirmed that the event will no longer be taking place as previously scheduled in the Norton Center on the 19th. According to emails sent to event ticket-holders outside the institution (see below), Professor Gates has been unexpectedly required to tend to a pressing family medical issue for the near future, and we certainly wish him and his family the absolute best during this difficult time. This likely explains the rapid onset of this development, and hopefully clears things up amongst those wondering as to the status of the event. 

On a brighter note, the lecture is expected to be rescheduled for fall semester of 2024, which opens up possibilities for students, community members, and others to enjoy Gates’ prolific media presence, and to buy tickets well in advance of what’s sure to be a fruitful discussion. Given that his brilliant PBS series Finding Your Roots, a childhood favorite of mine, is now entering its tenth season, there’s certainly no shortage of content awaiting the avid longtime fan, or anyone interested in genealogy, culture, and thought-provoking theory. I believe I speak for many on campus when I say that knowing that the event was only being postponed, and not cancelled outright, has provided serious relief. 

What’s curious, though, has been the rollout of this information to certain parties and not others. I had no idea the event was even at risk of being postponed or cancelled until I received an early morning text from a family member out of state who had bought a ticket months ago, planning a trip to come see the lecture. Interestingly enough, she received three notifications: the email below (sent on April 3rd), a physical letter in the mail with the same information (which came around 5 days later), and a notice of ticket refund (also seen below) which fulfilled the promise written into the original notification. All the while, Centre students (to the best of my knowledge) have received no information as to the future of the event up until this point, which seems peculiar given the wide public excitement around campus surrounding it. Maybe a notice of cancellation was slated for the coming week in advance of the previously scheduled date, or perhaps ticket-holders received prior notice due to their financial investment in attending the lecture, which would be refunded. Either way, I’m still thrilled for the lecture in the coming semester, and hope all will attend. But the question remains as to why we weren’t told as early as some others. 

The event rescheduling email sent to ticket-holders on April 3rd, alongside an identical letter. 

(Credit: Dawn Parks)

The notice of ticket refund sent to ticket-holders a few days after the confirmed rescheduling

(Credit: Dawn Parks)

2 thoughts on “Mysterious Convocation Cancellation: Henry Louis Gates Jr.

  1. While I appreciate all the info in the article, I’m curious why the top byline (above Mr. Gates photo) states the article is by Jenna Nicodemus, but then the byline under the photo states by Connor Parks – who wrote &or submitted this article? Or was it co-written?

    1. Hi there, this article was written by Connor Parks. The name above the photo only reflects the administrator account who posted the digital page. This is a technical issue that we are aware causes some confusion, and hope to resolve eventually working with IT.

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