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Henry Louis Gates Jr Quotes Honoring Tolerance and Respect

These Henry Louis Gates Jr quotes will inspire you to achieve your highest potential.

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, historian, and educator known for his pioneering theories of African American literature and African studies in general.

Gates has made contributions to the field of literature in various forms.

Some of his works include The Signifying Monkey, Bearing Witness, and Black Literature and Literary Theory. 

He has also been host for PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots

Born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia, Gates excelled as a student.

He graduated from Yale University in 1973 with a degree in history and was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in England.

In honor of his accomplishments, Gates has received various awards and honors, including over 50 honorary degrees, induction into the “Sons of the American Revolution” in 2006, and being named one of Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans.

As an acclaimed author and critic who has unearthed a wide range of literary gems, Gates is someone who has clearly managed to tap into his Everyday Power.

In that respect, below is our collection of wise and inspirational Henry Louis Gates Jr quotes.

Henry Louis Gates Jr quotes honoring tolerance and respect

1. “The first step toward tolerance is respect and the first step toward respect is knowledge.” Henry Louis Gates

Everyday Application: Knowledge is the key to growth and development. It doesn’t have to be formal education, but learning (from reputable sources) will help you build respect for people. With that respect comes tolerance, and the world would be a much better place for it.

2. “I have no plans to slow down.” – Henry Louis Gates

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Everyday Application: Slowing down when you need a break is important. Take a break if you need to, but don’t quit. Also, try to minimize distractions so you don’t slow down unintentionally. Go after your dreams and goals with gusto!

3. “Learning to sing one’s own songs, to trust the particular cadences of own’s voices, is also the goal of any writer.” – Henry Louis Gates

Everyday Application: This isn’t just a goal for writer’s; it’s a skill we all need. Trust your intuition and your knowledge. Have faith that you will make the decisions that are right for you. It is your life and you are responsible for deciding how to live it!

4. “Diversity doesn’t mean black and white only.” – Henry Louis Gates

Everyday Application: Examples of internal diversity (things people are born with) are: race, ethnicity, age, nation of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical ability. There are so many things each of us can learn from the people who are different from us.

Henry Louis Gates Jr quotes

5. “Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.” ― Henry Louis Gates

Everyday Application: Lynching is a terrible act that not only terrorized black Americans, but also circumvented the constitutional judicial process. Censorship circumvents freedom of expression in a similar manner. The truth is we need our judicial process to function as it is supposed to, and people should be able to express themselves creatively.

6. “No human culture is inaccessible to someone who makes the effort to understand, to learn, to inhabit another world.” ― Henry Louis Gates

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Everyday Application: There are so many different cultures out there and people across the world live in vastly different ways. Who decides that there is a “right” way? Make the effort to learn and understand other people. A great way to do this is to read and travel!

7. “Everything my mother and father did was designed to put me where I am.” ― Henry Louis Gates

Everyday Application: It truly is a blessing to have parents like this. If you were lucky to have parents who set you up for success, tell them thank you! If you did not have that kind of parental assistance or care, do not fear! You can make your life a success and reach your dreams through your own hard work and commitment.

8. “The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.” – Henry Louis Gates

Everyday Application: Take time to learn about the truth and the facts. This should apply to everything in your life, not just specific issues. However, learning about the complexity of black history would be beneficial to every American, regardless of race.

9. “There are just so many stories that are buried on family trees.” – Henry Louis Gates

Everyday Application: Cherish your family and make sure you you listen to the stories of the elder members. Try and write them down or record them, even! This way future generations can understand where they come from, and the uniqueness that makes up their family tree.

10. “You have to have a canon so the next generation can come along and explode it.” – Henry Louis Gates

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Everyday Application: Sometimes, people do not get to see the fruits of their fight. You might be the generation that lays all the battle plans and gathers the weapons. Yet, it might be your grandsons and granddaughters that light the spark of change and progress.

Which of these Henry Louis Gates Jr quotes was your favorite?

Henry Louis Gates Jr is a prominent black intellectual and a literary historian who’s committed to the preservation and study of historical texts.

Besides, he has worked to bring about social, educational, and intellectual equality for African Americans.

Despite being born in a segregated town, Gates did not allow the open racism of his childhood to stop him from going on to have a remarkable career.

Hopefully, the above quotes will inspire you to achieve your highest potential.

Which of these Henry Louis Gates Jr quotes was your favorite?

Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add?

Let us know in the comment section below.

Norbert Juma, Lead Editor
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  1. Candice Parton

    March 8, 2019 at 3:42 PM

    I love this man. I love the way he thinks and feels. He definitely seems to be very comfortable with both, which give credence to his authenticity. Originality cannot be denied, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is an original. I look forward to hearing more from him—anytime. Because he is who he is, my life is enriched—and educated. My favorite quotes were #5 and #6 and I am going to post them in Facebook. Last, but surely not least, is his delicious sense of humor. He makes me laugh while making me think at the same time. A priceless combination. ❤️

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