"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."
"Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards."Henry Louis Gates on Soren Kierkegaard
"The only source of knowledge is experience."Henry Louis Gates on Albert Einstein
"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn."Henry Louis Gates on C. S. Lewis
"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes."Henry Louis Gates on Oscar Wilde
"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."Henry Louis Gates on Mark Twain
"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."
"Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice."
"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."
"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."
"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."