Quotes by Henry Louis Gates

Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.
– Henry Louis Gates
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
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
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
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
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
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
There are just so many stories that are buried on family trees.
– Henry Louis Gates
The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.
– Henry Louis Gates
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
So many people of color who made major contributions to American history have been trapped in the purgatory of history.
– Henry Louis Gates
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
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
Patriotism is best exemplified through auto-critique.
– Henry Louis Gates