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Quotations: Black History Month


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For I am my mother's daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart.  ~Mary McLeod Bethune


Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.  I rise.  I rise.  I rise.  ~Maya Angelou, "Still I Rise," And Still I Rise


For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact.  It is a historical truth.  No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.  ~Maya Angelou


We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history.  What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.  ~Carter Woodson, 1926


This being Black History Month, I would like to ask people to celebrate the similarities and not focus on the differences between people of color and not of color.  ~Lynn Swann


The African-American experience is one of the most important threads in the American tapestry.  ~Bill Frist


I don't want a Black History Month.  Black history is American history.  ~Morgan Freeman


The African race is a rubber ball.  The harder you dash it to the ground, the higher it will rise.  ~African Proverb


I am America.  I am the part you won't recognize.  But get used to me.  Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.  ~Muhammad Ali


You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.  ~Frederick Douglass


I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


I swear to the Lord
I still can't see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.
~Langston Hughes


I am not tragically colored.  There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes.... Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less.  No, I do not weep at the world - I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.  ~Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels to Be Colored Me, 1928


Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.  ~Carol Moseley-Braun


Freedom is never given; it is won.  ~A. Philip Randolph


Black people have always been America's wilderness in search of a promised land.  ~Cornel West, "Nihilism in America," Race Matters, 1993


There is no Negro problem.  The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution.  ~Frederick Douglass


You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.  ~Billie Holiday


Do not call for black power or green power.  Call for brain power.  ~Barbara Jordan


If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence.  We should, therefore, protest openly everything... that smacks of discrimination or slander.  ~Mary McLeod Bethune


Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.  ~Author Unknown


If there is no struggle, there is no progress.  ~Frederick Douglass


We are the wrong people of the wrong skin in the wrong continent and what in the hell is everybody being reasonable about?  ~June Jordan


We do not deride the fears of prospering white America.  A nation of violence and private property has every reason to dread the violated and the deprived.  ~June Jordan


No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.  ~Booker T. Washington


In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.  ~Booker T. Washington


The United States has been called the melting pot of the world.  But it seems to me that the colored man either missed getting into the pot or he got melted down.  ~Thurgood Marshall


It's just like when you've got some coffee that's too black, which means it's too strong.  What do you do?  You integrate it with cream, you make it weak.  But if you pour too much cream in it, you won't even know you ever had coffee.  It used to be hot, it becomes cool.  It used to be strong, it becomes weak.  It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.  ~Malcolm X


Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.  ~William Lloyd Garrison


Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught.  I have a two-year-old son.  You know what he hates?  Naps!  End of list.  ~Dennis Leary


One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.  ~Franklin Thomas


To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.  ~William Faulkner


Racial superiority is a mere pigment of the imagination.  ~Author Unknown


Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.  ~Arthur Ashe


I am an invisible man.... I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind.  I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.  ~Ralph Ellison


I think there's just one kind of folks.  Folks.  ~Harper Lee


The time is always right to do what is right.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


 
 
It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others.... One ever feels his twoness, - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.  ~W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903


We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.  Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead.  The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


Our nation is a rainbow - red, yellow, brown, black, and white - and we're all precious in God's sight.  ~Jesse Jackson, speech at Democratic National Convention, San Francisco, 17 July 1984


"We, the people."  It is a very eloquent beginning.  But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787 I was not included in that "We, the people."  I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, just left me out by mistake.  But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in "We, the people."  ~Barbara Jordan


Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.  Martin Luther King, Jr.


I had no idea that history was being made.  I was just tired of giving up.  ~Rosa Parks


[W]hen you first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are), and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro... when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" - then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.  ~Oprah Winfrey


The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the shadowy and of the Egypt the Sphinx.  Throughout history, the powers of single blacks flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.  ~W.E.B. DuBois


We black men seem the sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in a dusty desert of dollars and smartness.  ~W.E.B. DuBois


To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.  ~W.E.B. DuBois


In this country American means white.  Everybody else has to hyphenate.  ~Toni Morrison


Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.  ~Abraham Lincoln


You can not possibly have a broader basis for government than that which includes all the people, with all their rights in their hands, and with an equal power to maintain their rights.  ~William Lloyd Garrison


I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government.  ~Cissy Farenthold


Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.  ~Desmond Tutu


Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.  ~Abraham Joshua Heschel


Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.  ~Countess of Blessington


Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.  ~Robert F. Kennedy


The majority of the Negroes who took part in the year-long boycott of Montgomery's buses were poor and untutored; but they understood the essence of the Montgomery movement; one elderly woman summed it up for the rest.  When asked after several weeks of walking whether she was tired, she answered:  "My feet is tired, but my soul is at rest."  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


Even when the polls are open to all, Negroes have shown themselves too slow to exercise their voting privileges.  There must be a concerted effort on the part of Negro leaders to arouse their people from their apathetic indifference.... In the past, apathy was a moral failure.  Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


The Negro is the child of two cultures - Africa and America.  The problem is that in the search for wholeness all too many Negroes seek to embrace only one side of their natures.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


As I like to say to the people in Montgomery:  "The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people.  The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness."  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


There is such a thing as the freedom of exhaustion.  Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up.... The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber.... To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


American means white, and Africanist people struggle to make the term applicable to themselves with ethnicity and hyphen after hyphen after hyphen.  ~Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, 1992


My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I'm going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you.  And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it.  ~Paul Robeson


When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.  There was such a glory over everything.  ~Harriet Tubman, on her first escape from slavery, 1845


I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or rat in a trap.  I had already determined to sell my life as dearly as possible if attacked.  I felt if I could take one lyncher with me, this would even up the score a little bit.  ~Ida B. Wells


As long as the colored man look to white folks to put the crown on what he say... as long as he looks to white folks for approval... then he ain't never gonna find out who he is and what he's about.  ~August Wilson, .Jr.


The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence.  It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.  ~Maya Angelou


Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different?  Outside of cannibalism, which can be matched in this country, at least, by lynching, there is no vice and no degradation in native African customs which can begin to touch the horrors thrust upon them by white masters.  Drunkenness, terrible diseases, immorality, all these things have been gifts of European civilization.  ~W.E.B. DuBois


Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.  ~William Lloyd Garrison


The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.  As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.  ~Harper Lee


Prejudice is the child of ignorance.  ~William Hazlitt


I will always remember my delight when Mrs. Georgia Gilmore - an unlettered woman of unusual intelligence - told how an operator demanded that she get off the bus after paying her fare and board it again by the back door, and then drove away before she could get there.  She turned to Judge Carter and said:  "When they count the money, they do not know Negro money from white money."  ~Martin Luther King,  Jr.


We did not hesitate to call our movement an army.  But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


The problem with hatred and violence is that they intensity the fears of the white majority, and leave them less ashamed of their prejudices toward Negroes.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


[W]e are the heirs of a past of rope, fire, and murder.  I for one am not ashamed of this past.  My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


There comes a time when people get tired of being plunged into the abyss of exploitation and nagging injustice.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


When the Negro was completely an underdog, he needed white spokesmen.  Liberals played their parts in this period exceedingly well.... But now that the Negro has rejected his role as an underdog, he has become more assertive in his search for identity and group solidarity; he wants to speak for himself.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, "There lived a great people - a black people - who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization."  This is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


And so we shall have to do more than register and more than vote; we shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect, who have moral and ethical principles we can applaud with enthusiasm.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all.  And so today I still have a dream.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.



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Last modified 2010 Sep 09 Thu 20:35 PDT


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