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
Henry Louis Gates

The precise form of an individual's activity is determined, of course, by the equipment with which he came into the world. In other words, it is determined by his heredity.

Henry Louis Gates
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.
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
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.
Henry Louis Gates

What happened in the interim is, billions of records have been digitized. Historians and scholars have always used genealogical records to tell the story of American history. It takes months and years of research. I can't even tell you how laborious that is. You have to be somebody who has a lot of free time, like a professor who can take tenure or someone with a great deal of leisure.

Henry Louis Gates
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.
Henry Louis Gates

I don't think the riots derailed the civil rights movement.

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

We must begin to understand the nature of intertextuality . . . the manner by which texts poems and novels respond to other texts. After all, all cats may be black at night, but not to other cats.

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.