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Henry Louis Gates's Quotes

Henry Louis Gates profile photo

Born: 1950-09-16
Profession: Critic
Nation: American
Biography of Henry Louis Gates

See the gallery for quotes by Henry Louis Gates. You can to use those 8 images of quotes as a desktop wallpapers.
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I knew that there were black people in Africa, of course, unfortunately because of movies such as 'Tarzan.'

Tags: Black, Knew, Movies

I think that the implication of King's assassination has not been fully appreciated.

Tags: Fully, King

I want to get into the educational DNA of American culture. I want 10 percent of the common culture, more or less, to be black.

Tags: American, Black, Less

I'm a tech geek.

Tags: Geek, Tech

I'm a tech geek. Whenever I read about something new, I think to myself, How can I take this and make it black?

Tags: Black, Read, Whenever

I'm looking forward to the time when we all look like Polynesians.

Tags: Forward, Looking, Time

In America one drop of black ancestry makes you black.

Tags: America, Black, Makes

In fact, the class divide in the black community is now seen by some as a permanent aspect of our existence.

Tags: Black, Fact, Seen

It turns out one of my ancestors fought in the Continental Army, so I was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution.

Tags: American, Army, Revolution

It's fascinating how life works.

Tags: Life, Works

It's no surprise that White people say things when they are together about Black people.

Tags: Black, Surprise, Together

Lincoln had a tremendous capacity for personal growth - more than any other American President.

Tags: American, Growth, Personal

Lincoln would love the fact that Obama is such a great conciliator, trying to transcend ideology.

Tags: Great, Love, Trying

My brother and I had a really privileged relationship with my parents... They treated us like adults.

Tags: Brother, Parents, Treated

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.

Tags: Father, History, Son

My father lived to be 97 and played bridge every day up to the end, so I've got a 50 percent chance of living a long life like him.

Tags: End, Father, Life

My father was the funniest man I ever met. He made Redd Foxx look like an undertaker.

Tags: Father, Funniest, Undertaker

My goal is to get everybody in America to do their family tree.

Tags: America, Family, Goal

My grandfather was coloured, my father was Negro, and I am Black.

Tags: Black, Coloured, Father

One must learn how to be black in America.

Tags: America, Black, Learn

Patriotism is best exemplified through auto-critique.

Tags: Best, Patriotism

Remember, I have a Ph.D. in English literature.

Tags: English, Literature, Remember

Suffering does not necessarily ennoble you.

Tags: Ennoble, Suffering

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

Tags: Family, Line, Tree

What's fascinated me from the time I was a little kid was the way we construct our lives through stories.

Tags: Kid, Lives, Time

You have to have a canon so the next generation can come along and explode it.

Tags: Along, Generation, Next
Much more quotes by Henry Louis Gates below the page.

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.

Tags: Black, Positive, Society

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionately intrigued by 'Africa,' by the word itself, by its flora and fauna, its topographical diversity and grandeur; but above all else, by the sheer variety of the colors of its people, from tan and sepia to jet and ebony.

Tags: Else, Remember, Word

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.

Tags: Age, Black, Father

I rebel at the notion that I can't be part of other groups, that I can't construct identities through elective affinity, that race must be the most important thing about me. Is that what I want on my gravestone: Here lies an African American?

Tags: American, Here, Lies

I think that the roots of racism have always been economic, and I think people are desperate and scared. And when you're desperate and scared you scapegoat people. It exacerbates latent tendencies toward - well, toward racism or homophobia or anti-Semitism.

Tags: Desperate, Racism, Scared

I would like to do a series about sequencing the human genome, and also analyze more human diversity among other ethnic groups - a 'Faces of America 2.'

Tags: America, Among, Human

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.

Tags: Art, Fact, Great

It's not white versus black any more, it's haves versus have-nots. Unless the black middle-classes unite to promote the interests of the black underclass, tension between them is inevitable. What we, the black middle class have to do, is think of a strategy to avert that.

Tags: Between, Black, Unless

No one thinks of Mexico and Peru as black. But Mexico and Peru together got 700,000 Africans in the slave trade. The coast of Acapulco was a black city in the 1870s. And the Veracruz Coast on the gulf of Mexico and the Costa Chica, south of Acapulco are traditional black lands.

Tags: Black, City, Together

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.

Tags: Best, Black, Patriotism

People don't realize what a brilliant politician Lincoln was. Looking back, we want to ascribe a level of providence to his every decision but he was a cunning and calculating politician; from the cultivation of his image as a hayseed from Illinois, to his ability to keep this country together under dire circumstances.

Tags: Country, Decision, Together

So, Mexico, Brazil, they wanted their national culture to be 'blackish' - really brown, a beautiful brown blend. And finally, I discovered that in each of these societies the people at the bottom are the darkest skinned with the most African features.

Tags: Beautiful, Culture, Wanted

The Dominican Republic says 'We're black behind the ears.' And in Mexico, 'there's a black grandma in the closet.' They know, they've just been intermarrying for a long time. But if we did the DNA of everyone in Mexico a whole lot of people would have a whole lot of black in them.

Tags: Black, Everyone, Time

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?

Tags: Marriage, Sad, Truth

There's a boom in genealogy now. With ancestry.com and other sites digitizing so many of the records, you can now find things in a few minutes that used to take months.

Tags: Few, Months, Used

When Europeans came upon real ruined cities they refused to believe that they had been built by Africans. Here the past has been distorted and denied.

Tags: Here, Past, Real

A more humane form of capitalism is about the best I think we can get. Which might sound very reformist or conservative, but that's basically where I am.

Tags: Best, Might, Sound

All historians generalize from particulars. And often, if you look at a historian's footnotes, the number of examples of specific cases is very, very small.

Tags: Number, Often, Small

All of the guests on 'Faces of America' were deeply moved by what we revealed about their ancestry. We were able to trace the ancestry of Native American writer Louise Erdrich back to 438 A.D. We found that Queen Noor is descended from royalty, and that's before she married King Hussein of Jordan.

Tags: Able, America, American

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.

Tags: Greatest, History, Men

Because Lincoln is so closely identified with what it is to be American, everyone wants to claim him, to rewrite his story to satisfy their own particular needs.

Tags: American, Everyone, Him

Because Lincoln is so closely identified with what it is to be American, everyone wants to claim him, to rewrite his story to satisfy their own particular needs. For my own people, it was important to imagine him as the Great Emancipator, the Moses who led us out of slavery.

Tags: Everyone, Great, Him

Color categories are on steroids in Latin America. I find that fascinating. It's very difficult for Americans, particularly African-Americans to understand or sympathize with.

Tags: America, Difficult, Understand

Cuba is like going to a whole other planet. It's so different but it's so similar to the United States, to Miami. It's like a doppelgaenger. It's the mirror image. And I have no doubt, that once Cuba becomes democratic, that it will be the favorite tourist destination for Americans.

Tags: Doubt, Once, Whole

Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide.

Tags: American, Great, Leader

I give a speech to the black freshmen at Harvard each year, and I say, 'You can like Mozart and ice hockey...' - and then I used to say 'golf,' but Tiger took over golf! - 'and Picasso and still be as black as the ace of spades.'

Tags: Black, Give, Hockey

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.

Tags: Family, Mean, Means

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.

Tags: Family, Mean, Means

It's very lonely being a prominent black intellectual at an institution where you're the only prominent black intellectual. That was the model that was followed in the late 60s when black studies started. You'd get one here and one there and one here, like Johnny Appleseed.

Tags: Black, Here, Lonely

Keeping the Union together, freeing slaves and being assassinated all added up to creating 'Lincoln the myth.' He overcame a lot of his own prejudices and became what many would consider the first black man's president.

Tags: Black, Together, Union

Most black leaders, whether left, right or center, from Frederick Douglas and Martin Delaney on in the middle of the 19th century have not even wondered about the merits of the capitalist system.

Tags: Black, Left, Whether

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.'

Tags: Family, Movies, Thought

My father, if anything, first and last, was a man of words. He loved stories; he didn't live for stories, exactly, but I think he lived through stories. I think, like many writers, he loved stories about things he had experienced as much as, if not more than, he loved the experiences themselves.

Tags: Father, Last, Words

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.

Tags: Black, God, Mom

One principle I've been fighting for that doesn't endear me to a lot of people is that black people can be just as complicated and screwed up as white people. Our motives can be just as base and violent. Suffering does not necessarily ennoble you.

Tags: Black, Fighting, Suffering

Really, the values under which my generation was raised in the '50s were immigrant values even though we weren't immigrants. The greatest thing you could be was a college-educated Negro.

Tags: Greatest, Though, Values

Since the day Martin Luther King was killed, the black middle classes have almost quadrupled, but the percentage of black children living on or below the poverty line is almost the same.

Tags: Black, Children, Living

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.

Tags: American, Experience, Family

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.

Tags: Black, Poor, Success

The most ironic outcome of the black Civil Rights movement has been the creation of a new black middle class which is increasingly separate from the black underclass.

Tags: Black, Creation, Rights

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.

Tags: America, Crazy, Hope

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.

Tags: Business, Sad, Truth

The Western stereotype of Africa and its black citizens as devoid of reason and, therefore, subhuman was often shared by white master and black ex-slave alike.

Tags: Black, Often, Reason

There are two things that have always haunted me: the brutality of the European traders and the stories I've heard about Africans selling other Africans into slavery.

Tags: Heard, Slavery, Stories

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.

Tags: Black, Business, School

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.

Tags: Attitude, Black, Learning

We can't all work in the inner city. And, I don't even think that it is incumbent upon an African-American intellectual to be concerned in their work with problems of race and class. It's just one of the things, that we here at the DuBois Institute, are concerned about.

Tags: Here, Problems, Work

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.

Tags: Black, Lives, Success

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.

Tags: Forget, History, Life

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

Tags: Black, History, Lost

You can find virtually everybody black back as far as the 1870 census. Why 1870? That's when the ex-slaves first have surnames. But if you find your great-great-grandfather in 1870 and it says he's 50, that means he was born in 1820 and you're back to 1820 already. For an American that's pretty damned good, you know?

Tags: Black, Good, Pretty

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.

Tags: Envy, Family, Put

You have a diasporic black world, and the only way to put it back together again is symbolic. It's like Humpty Dumpty. Whoever could edit the 'Encyclopedia Africana' would provide symbolic order to the fragments created over the past 500 years. That is a major contribution.

Tags: Black, Past, Together

You notice patterns. White guests often are mortified - that word again - when they learn their ancestors owned slaves. But I've never had a black guest who was upset to learn about white ancestry that probably involved forced sexual relations.

Tags: Again, Black, Learn

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

Tags: Black, History, Truth

I believe in the law. I think we have a great system of justice. But I do think that system of justice has been corrupted by racism and classism. I think it's difficult for 'poor people' - poor white people, brown people - to be treated fairly before the law in the same way that upper-class people are.

Tags: Great, Justice, Racism

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?

Tags: Great, Mind, War

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.

Tags: Fear, Hate, Real

If Martin Luther King came back, he'd say we need another civil rights movement built on class not race.

Tags: Another, King, Rights

In Ethiopia, the black people became Christians 1700 years ago, hundreds of years before Northern Europe turned to Christianity... And here, most of the saints are black.

Tags: Black, Europe, Here

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.

Tags: Future, Society, Work

Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.

Tags: Art, Censorship, Justice

In America one drop of black ancestry makes you black. In Brazil, it's almost as if one drop of white ancestry makes you white.

Tags: America, Black, Makes

In America there is institutional racism that we all inherit and participate in, like breathing the air in this room - and we have to become sensitive to it.

Tags: America, Become, Racism

Diversity doesn't mean black and white only.

Tags: Black, Mean, White

Ever since I watched 'Roots,' I've dreamed of tracing my African ancestry and helping other people do the same.

Tags: Helping, Roots, Since

The Right insists that anyone can escape poverty by working hard but that is simply not the case.

Tags: Hard, Poverty, Working

Everything my mother and father did was designed to put me where I am.

Tags: Father, Mother, Put

I have no plans to slow down.

Tags: Plans, Slow

I want to be a figure for prison reform. I think that the criminal justice system is rotten.

Tags: Justice, Prison, System

Politicians will not put forth programs aimed at the problems of poor blacks while their turnout remains so low.

Tags: Poor, Problems, Put

So many people of color who made major contributions to American history have been trapped in the purgatory of history.

Tags: American, Color, History

There are just so many stories that are buried on family trees.

Tags: Family, Stories, Trees

First we have to recognize that the cause of poverty is both structural and behavioral. And the first thing about the behavior part is that we need a moral revolution within the African American community. Look - no white racist makes you get pregnant when you are a black teenager.

Tags: Black, Poverty, Revolution