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Quotations: Black History

Related Quotes      Adversity      History      MLK Day      Prejudice      Racism

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

Our responsibility as citizens is to address the inequalities and injustices that linger, and we must secure our birthright freedoms for all people. As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ~Barack Obama, 2016 January 29th, quoted from The White House Office of the Press Secretary

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

Through avalanches of prejudices; industrial barriers; professional intrigues; legal technicalities; diplomatic effronteries, and political buffetings, the American Negro has, at last arrived before the public eye, as a factor not easily to be evaded. ~Mitchell Davis, One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race, 1917

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

Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness. ~W.E. Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963), "The Forethought: Of Our Spiritual Strivings," The Souls of Black Folk, 1903

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

The people of the Piney Grove establishment, both white and black, had been free for nearly a generation. The whites had been freed from the curse of being slave-holders, and the blacks had been freed from the curse of being held in bondage. ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), "Thanksgiving at Piney Grove," Floyd's Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905

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, "The Black Man Speaks," Jim Crow's Last Stand, 1943

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

In overthrowing me, only the trunk of the tree of negro liberty has been cut down; its branches will shoot up again, for its roots are numerous and deep. ~Toussaint Louverture (c.1743–1803)

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

      It is the misfortune of men of African descent to be heavily shadowed by a cloud, and they must wait to have it dispelled before they can be properly seen, either by themselves or by others. Suspicion of the presence of a drop of African blood in the veins of a man, however able and distinguished, is a blight and mildew upon his life for American society.... His race is hated and his color is crime. The verdict of both court and country is against him in advance of evidence or argument...
      There are few things in the world more blinding than race prejudice, and there are but few things more inflexible and persistent. Against the claims of truth and justice, to say nothing of brotherly kindness, it stands like a wall of brass. Reason and common sense dash themselves against it in vain. Individual men have risen and are rising above it, but the masses are ever under its sway and direction.... neither Irishman, Jew, nor Chinaman is fully included in the high human circle; but the fiercest wrath of this race prejudice is reserved for men and women of African blood. ~Frederick Douglass, "Toussaint L'Ouverture," c.1890

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 wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, —
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties...
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
      We wear the mask!
~Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), "We Wear the Mask"

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

Have a vision of excellence, a dream of success, and work like hell. ~Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, advice to all black youth, c.1967

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. ~Denis Leary, 1992

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 A. Thomas, 1982

To live anywhere in the world of A.D. 1955 and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow. ~William Faulkner, 1955

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... That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality. ~Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952

This is our country, as much as it is the country of any other race.... We may be the descendants of Africans, but we are citizens of the United States. This is our home... ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), "Our Country," Floyd's Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905

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

There were in the midst of Northern society forces and influences continually at work misrepresenting the Negro. Art lent its fascinating, but mischievous, pencil to paint him in form and features most repulsive. Northern people traveling through the South have discovered that we are not so bad looking after all. I say it, and I say it without fear of successful contradiction, that many of the handsomest citizens the United States can boast of to‑day have the warm blood of Africa coursing through their veins. ~William H. Crogman (1841–1931), address delivered at the anniversary of the Freedmen's Aid Society, 1883 August 13th, Ocean Grove, New Jersey  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

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, 1974

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

Few of us realize that racism is man's gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking. This is not a white man's world. It is God's world. ~Abraham Joshua Heschel, c. 1963

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

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

All the negro asks is that the door which rewards industry, thrift, intelligence and character be left as wide open for him as for the foreigner who constantly comes to our country. More than this he has no right to request. Less than this a republic has no right to withhold. ~Booker T. Washington, 1904 February 12th, Armstrong Association meeting, New York City

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.

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

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 saved 2021 Jan 17 Sun 13:28 PST

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