Henry Louis Gates Quotes

- Notable Henry Louis Gates Quotes Index -

Born: September 16, 1950, Piedmont, West Virginia, USA
Birth Country: USA
Occupation: Academic

1.
America is the greatest nation ever founded. The ideals are the greatest ever espoused in human history, and we just need the country to live up to them. But what I worry about are the 1 million black men in the prison system.
- Henry Louis Gates

2.
But you see, our society is still trapped in this binary, black/white logic and that has had some very positive implications for our generation. It's had some very negative ones as well and one of the negative ones is that it creates enormous identity problems for people who have one black ancestor and all white ancestors for example.
- Henry Louis Gates

3.
Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.
- Henry Louis Gates

4.
I first learned that there were black people living in some place called other than the United States in the western hemisphere when I was a very little boy, and my father told me that when he was a boy about my age, he wanted to be an Episcopal priest, because he so admired his priest, a black man from someplace called Haiti.
- Henry Louis Gates

5.
I knew that there were black people in Africa, of course, unfortunately because of movies such as 'Tarzan.'
- Henry Louis Gates

6.
If you share a common ancestor with somebody, you're related to them. It doesn't mean that you're going to invite them to the family reunion, but it means that you share DNA.
- Henry Louis Gates

7.
If you share a common ancestor with somebody, you're related to them. It doesn't mean that you're going to invite them to the family reunion, but it means that you share DNA. I think it's fascinating.
- Henry Louis Gates

8.
It's important to debunk the myths of Africa being this benighted continent civilized only when white people arrived. In fact, Africans had been creators of culture for thousands of years before. These were very intelligent, subtle and sophisticated people, with organized societies and great art.
- Henry Louis Gates

9.
Let's face it - think of Africa, and the first images that come to mind are of war, poverty, famine and flies. How many of us really know anything at all about the truly great ancient African civilizations, which in their day, were just as splendid and glorious as any on the face of the earth?
- Henry Louis Gates

10.
My brother and I had a really privileged relationship with my parents... They treated us like adults.
- Henry Louis Gates

11.
My family and our neighbors and friends thought of Africa and its Africans as extensions of the stereotyped characters that we saw in movies and on television in films such as 'Tarzan' and in programs such as 'Ramar of the Jungle' and 'Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.'
- Henry Louis Gates

12.
My father and I made genetics history. We were the first African-Americans and the first father and son anywhere to have their genomes sequenced.
- Henry Louis Gates

13.
My goal is to get everybody in America to do their family tree.
- Henry Louis Gates

14.
My mom, God rest her soul - she liked nicknames. In the womb she named me Skip. There was another black guy in Piedmont, W.Va., and his name was Skip. They called him Big Skip, and I was Little Skip.
- Henry Louis Gates

15.
Patriotism is best exemplified through auto-critique.
- Henry Louis Gates

16.
Patriotism is best exemplified through auto-critique. When you're willing to stand up within the group and say, 'It is wrong for Black people to be anti-Semitic,' or 'It is wrong for America to discriminate against persons of African descent and made them slaves and based its wealth upon free labor,' it's crucial to say that.
- Henry Louis Gates

17.
People are afraid, and when people are afraid, when their pie is shrinking, they look for somebody to hate. They look for somebody to blame. And a real leader speaks to anxiety and to fear and allays those fears, assuages anxiety.
- Henry Louis Gates

18.
People who own property feel a sense of ownership in their future and their society. They study, save, work, strive and vote. And people trapped in a culture of tenancy do not.
- Henry Louis Gates

19.
So many people of color who made major contributions to American history have been trapped in the purgatory of history.
- Henry Louis Gates

20.
So when you do your family tree and Margaret Cho does hers, and... Wanda Sykes and John Legend... we're adding to the database that scholars can then draw from to generalize about the complexity of the American experience. And that's the contribution that family trees make to broader scholarship.
- Henry Louis Gates

21.
The African American's relationship to Africa has long been ambivalent, at least since the early nineteenth century, when 3,000 black men crowded into Bishop Richard Allen's African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia to protest noisily a plan to recolonize free blacks in Africa.
- Henry Louis Gates

22.
The bottom line is that Wanda Sykes has the longest continuously documented family tree of any African-American we have ever researched.
- Henry Louis Gates

23.
The historical basis for the gap between the black middle class and underclass shows that ending discrimination, by itself, would not eradicate black poverty and dysfunction. We also need intervention to promulgate a middle-class ethic of success among the poor, while expanding opportunities for economic betterment.
- Henry Louis Gates

24.
The only people who live in a post-black world are four people who live in a little white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. The idea that America is post-racial or post-black because a man I admire, Barack Obama, is president of the United States, is a joke. And I hope no one will even wonder about this crazy fiction again.
- Henry Louis Gates

25.
The sad truth is that the civil rights movement cannot be reborn until we identify the causes of black suffering, some of them self-inflicted. Why can't black leaders organize rallies around responsible sexuality, birth within marriage, parents reading to their children and students staying in school and doing homework?
- Henry Louis Gates

26.
The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.
- Henry Louis Gates

27.
The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.
- Henry Louis Gates

28.
There are just so many stories that are buried on family trees.
- Henry Louis Gates

29.
Very few, if any, first-generation black or white or Asian kids will pursue a Ph.D. They'll pursue the professions for economic security. Many will go to law school and/or business school.
- Henry Louis Gates

30.
We can revolutionize the attitude of inner city brown and black kids to learning. We need a civil rights movement within the African-American community.
- Henry Louis Gates

31.
Well, certainly one of the ironies of the success of affirmative action is that the middle class within the black community no longer lives within 'black community' by and large.
- Henry Louis Gates

32.
What people forget is that the most radical thing about Obama is that he was the first black man in history to imagine that he could become president, who was able to make other Americans believe it as well. Other than that, he is a centrist, just like I try to be. He's been bridging divisions his whole life.
- Henry Louis Gates

33.
Wherever you go in the history of America, there have been Black people making contributions, but their contributions have been obscured, lost, buried.
- Henry Louis Gates

34.
You can say I had a severe case of 'Roots' envy. I wanted to be like Alex Haley, and I wanted to be able to... do my family tree back to the slave ship and then reverse the Middle Passage, as I like to put it, and find the tribe or ethnic group that I was from in Africa.
- Henry Louis Gates

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