On the season premiere of Watchmen on HBO, the series explained that after Richard Nixon died following several terms as United States President, Gerald Ford took over and then the public elected Robert Redford.
Redford then passed a sweeping law that allowed reparations — referred to on Watchmen as Redfordations — for anyone who suffered a loss due to hate crimes.
This included the fictional police officers on the show that died and were injured during the White Night attacks. It also included victims of real-life crimes, such as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
In the second episode of Watchmen, Angela headed to the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage, which was part-museum and part-program for providing the Redfordations for those affected by the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
When she went into the center, she approached a machine and hit a button where she was introduced to a recorded hologram of United States Treasury Secretary Henry Louis Gates Jr.
This man, like Robert Redford, is a real-life person.
Who is Henry Louis Gates Jr.?
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard. He is one of the preeminent minds concerning African American studies in America.
Over his life, he has created 15 documentaries including the Emmy award-winning Finding Your Roots on PBS.
Interestingly, Gates also has real-world knowledge of what Watchmen on HBO deals with.
First, he has actually written an in-depth article about why descendants of slaves do not necessarily deserve reparations from the United States, pointing out that many slaves were sold to the European settlers by African chiefs for a profit.
Second, Gates has also had a run-in with the police in what has to be seen as part of the country’s inability to deal fairly with race when it comes to policing.
In 2009, Gates returned from a trip to China to his home. He struggled to get in, as his door was stuck. As he and his driver tried to get the door open, someone called the police and Gates was arrested for trying to get into his own home.
Because of his fams and popularity, it went wide and President Obama had Gates and the arresting officer come to the White House to talk it out and settle their differences.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Watchmen
It makes sense on Watchmen on HBO that if a celebrity like Robert Redford was elected President, he would reach out to someone he knows, another very smart celebrity, to take on a key role in his cabinet.
In the episode, it is Gates who is the face of the Redfordations and the man who makes sure that people get what they deserve in the world of Watchmen.
“Our country appreciates the opportunity to right the wrongs of a dark past so that we all share a bright future. God bless America.”
Watchmen airs on HBO on Sunday nights at 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT.