Gates, Henry Louis “Skip,” Jr.
- Abby Wolf
educator, literary and cultural critic, and leading scholar in African and African American studies, was born Louis Smith Gates in Keyser, West Virginia. Gates, nicknamed “Skip” by his mother at birth, grew up in nearby Piedmont, the son of Henry Louis Gates Sr., a mill worker and janitor, and Pauline Coleman Gates, a homemaker and seamstress. Born four years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and encouraged by his parents, he excelled in Piedmont's integrated schools, including the Davis Free School and Piedmont High School, as did his older brother Paul, known as “Rocky,” who would become Chief of Oral Surgery at Bronx Lebanon Hospital.
At age fourteen Gates experienced two cataclysmic events in his young life the first a misdiagnosed slipped epithesis a hip injury that led to three surgeries in a year and the second his joining the Episcopal ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.