African American Quotes

We have collected and put the best African American Quotes. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others.

May these African American Quotes on many subjects inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.

African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black racial groups of Africa. The term African American generally denotes descendants of enslaved Africans who are from the United States, while some Black immigrants or their children may also come to identify as African-American.

Amin articles: African American Proverbs, African-American Folktales, and African-American Music
See also: Black History Month and Black History Month Quotes

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after being arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus to a White person

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after being arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus to a White person

As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

As long as we are not ourselves, we will try to be what other people are. – Malidoma Patrice Somé

At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back. – Denzel Washington

Belief in oneself and knowing who you are- I mean, that’s the foundation for everything great. – Jay-Z

Black people have always been America’s wilderness in search of a promised land. – Cornel West

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

Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand. – Oprah Winfrey

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama

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

Did you know that the human voice is the only pure instrument? That it has notes no other instrument has? It’s like being between the keys of a piano. – Nina Simone

Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with. – Michelle Obama

Don’t settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that’s in us. – Angela Bassett

Don’t try to lessen yourself for the world; let the world catch up to you. – Beyoncé

Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned throughout my journey that perfection is the enemy of greatness. – Janelle Monae

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. – Martin Luther King, Jr

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. – Harriet Tubman

Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself. – Oprah Winfrey

Everything will change. The only question is growing up or decaying. – Nikki Giovanni

Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it. – Jesse Owens

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

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. – Nelson Mandela

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

Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. Thy claim it as their own and none can keep it from them. – Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana)

Go to work in the morn of a new creation…until you have…reached the height of self-progress, and from that pinnacle bestow upon the world a civilization of your own. – Marcus Garvey

Go to work! Go to work in the morn of a new creation… until you have… reached the height of self-progress, and from that pinnacle bestow upon the world a civilization of your own. – Marcus Garvey

Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind. – Quincy Jones

Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated. – Coretta Scott King

Have a vision. Be demanding. – Colin Powell

Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit. – Bill Cosby

I always believed that when you follow your heart or your gut, when you really follow the things that feel great to you, you can never lose, because settling is the worst feeling in the world. – Rihanna

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

I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger. – Serena Williams

I am not going to die; I’m going home like a shooting star. – Sojourner Truth

I decided I wasn’t going to come down. I was going to fly. I was going to stay up in the air forever. – Jesse Owens

I don’t have any time to stay up all night worrying about what someone who doesn’t love me has to say about me. – Viola Davis

I feel safe in the midst of my enemies, for the truth is all powerful and will prevail. – Sojourner Truth

I find freedom sexy. I find freedom so sexy, I can’t even explain it to you. You wake up every day and feel like you can do anything. – Prince

I got my start by giving myself a start. – Madame CJ Walker

I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them. – Madam C.J. Walker

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. – Audre Lorde

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear knowing what must be done does away with fear – Rosa Parks

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. – Rosa Parks

I have standards I don’t plan on lowering for anybody, including myself. – Zendaya

I love my body, and I would never change anything about it. I’m not asking you to like my body. I’m just asking you to let me be me. – Serena Williams

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. – Frederick Douglass

I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something I just had to be. – Lupita Nyong’o

I think education is power. I think that being able to communicate with people is power. One of my main goals on the planet is to encourage people to empower themselves. – Oprah Winfrey

I think if we are actually going to accept our generation’s responsibility, that’s going to mean that we give our children no less retirement security than we inherited from our parents. – Carol Moseley Braun

I use my platform for more than just myself. Art is a reflection of human emotions. To neglect the political is to neglect what essentially is your job of storytelling. I would rather be known for the content of my character than for the project that I did.- Zendaya

I used to want the words ‘She tried’ on my tombstone. Now I want ‘She did it.’ – Katherine Dunham

Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow. – Jay-Z

If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow. – Beyonce Knowles

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. – Audre Lorde

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

If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. – Shirley Chisholm

If we can’t look at the good, bad and ugly of who we are, we are never going to progress as people- ever. – Rosie Perez

If you are fortunate to have opportunity, it is your duty to make sure other people have those opportunities as well. – Kamala Harris

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou

If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. – Malcolm X

If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth. – Roberto Clemente

If you prioritize yourself, you are going to save yourself. – Gabrielle Union

If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolute night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you’re going to get, you become a more successful person. In other words, if you want to make money, you have to help someone else make money. – Russell Simmons

If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress. – Barack Obama

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. – Muhammad Ali

In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe. – Michael Jackson

In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute. – Thurgood Marshall

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you let them make you even hungrier to succeed – michelle obama

Instead of looking at the past, I put myself ahead twenty years and try to look at what I need to do now in order to get there then. – Diana Ross

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. – Audre Lorde

It is so liberating to really know what I want, what truly makes me happy, what I will not tolerate. I have learned that it is no one else’s job to take care of me but me. – Beyoncé

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of that tapestry are equal in value no matter their color. – Maya Angelou

It’s important for young people to know that they are made the way they are made and they’re beautiful and that’s how they’re supposed to be. – Raven Symone

African American Proverb

African American Proverb

It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it. – Lena Horne

It’s okay to fall down. Get up, look sickening, and make them eat it! – Ru Paul

I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… all I ask is that you respect me as a human being. – Jackie Robinson

I’ve missed more than , shots in my career. I’ve lost almost games. times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

Magic lies in challenging what seems impossible. – Carol Moseley Braun

My body could stand the crutches but my mind couldn’t stand the sideline. – Michael Jordan

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. – Desmond Tutu

Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. – Dr. Mae Jamison

Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out…You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself. – Mae Jemison

Never, ever, let them see you sweat, negra. Fight until you can’t breathe, & if you have to forfeit, you forfeit smiling, make them think you let them win. – Elizabeth Acevedo

No one should negotiate their dreams. Dreams must be free to flee and fly high. No government, no legislature, has a right to limit your dreams. You should never agree to surrender your dreams. – Jesse Jackson

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow. – Alice Walker

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin

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

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. – Arthur Ashe

One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am. – Michelle Obama

Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it. – Rosa Parks

Our nation is a rainbow – red, yellow, brown, black, and white – and we’re all precious in God’s sight. – Jesse Jackson

Power is not given to you. You have to take it. – Beyonce

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. – Michael Jordan

Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what’s more than enough. – Billie Holiday

Sometimes I would almost rather have people take away years of my life than take away a moment. – Pearl Bailey

Sometimes it takes years to really grasp what has happened to your life. – Wilma Rudolph

Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out. – Tina Turner

Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me. – Zora Neale Hurston

Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied. – George Washington Carver

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. – Colin Powell

Success? I don’t know what that word means. I’m happy. But success, that goes back to what in somebody’s eyes success means. For me, success is inner peace. That’s a good day for me. – Denzel Washington

The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope. ―Barack Obama

The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression. – W.E.B. Du Bois

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker

The one thing I feel is lacking in Hollywood today is an understanding of the beauty, the power, the sexuality, the uniqueness, the humor of being a regular Black woman. – Viola Davis

The outside world told black kids when I was growing up that we weren’t worth anything. But our parents said it wasn’t so, and our churches and our schoolteachers said it wasn’t so. They believed in us, and we, therefore, believed in ourselves. – Marian Wright Edelman

The progress of the world will call for the best that all of us have to give. – Mary McLeod Bethune

The soul that is within me no man can degrade. – Frederick Douglass

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

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

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr

African American Proverb

African American Proverb

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them. – Ida B. Wells

The whole world opened to me when I learned to read. – Mary McLeod Bethune

There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints. – Rita Dove

There have been so many people who have said to me, ‘You can’t do that,’ but I’ve had an innate belief that they were wrong. Be unwavering and relentless in your approach. – Halle Berry

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now. – James Baldwin

There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. – Barack Obama

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. – Nelson Mandela

There’s always something to suggest that you’ll never be who you wanted to be. Your choice is to take it or keep on moving. – Phylicia Rashad

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice. – Martin Luther King Jr.

We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.- Jesse Owens

We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right. – Aretha Franklin

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future. – Fredrick Douglass

We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers. – Bayard Rustin

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

We will all, at some point, encounter hurdles to gaining access and entry, moving up and conquering self-doubt; but on the other side is the capacity to own opportunity and tell our own story. – Stacey Abrams

We’re bosses, and that’s what I consider feminism: female hustlers. – Cardi B

What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming. – Muhammad Ali

Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free . . . your true self comes out. – Tina Turner

Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us. – Susan L. Taylor

What’s the world for if you can’t make it up the way you want it?- Toni Morrison

When we’re talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us. – Ava DuVernay

When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world. – George Washington Carver

Women make up more than half of the world’s population and potential. So it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making. – Meghan Markle

Won’t it be wonderful when black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history. – Maya Angelou

Yes we can! – Barack Obama

You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better than you. – Katherine Johnson

You are not and yet you are: your thoughts, your deeds, above all your dreams still live. – W.E.B. Du Bois

You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give. – Vernon Jordan

You can be the lead in your own life. – Kerry Washington

You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen. – Michelle Obama

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom. – Malcolm X

You don’t have to be one of those people that accepts things as they are. Every day, take responsibility for changing them right where you are. – Cory Booker

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. – Shirley Chisholm

You never know how or when you’ll have an impact, or how important your example can be to someone else. – Denzel Washington

You never know which experiences of life are going to be of value . . . You’ve got to leave yourself open to the hidden opportunities. – Robin Roberts

You should never discount anything. I think so many of us tend to be comfortable with what we’re not and complacent with what we’re not. You really don’t have to be. I didn’t solve world peace or anything – it’s not like that. But something that felt so small and intangible ended up being tangible. And that’s just the coolest thing in the world. – Issa Rae

Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own. – Michelle Obama

Your willingness to look at your darkness is what empowers you to change. – Iyanla Vanzant

You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day. – Marian Wright Edelman

You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it. – Malcolm X

You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing. – Arthur Ashe

About Life

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. – Jackie Robinson

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. – Muhammad Ali

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly. – Langston Hughes

Hold on to your dreams of a better life and stay committed to striving to realize it. – Earl G. Graves, Sr.

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. – George Washington Carver

I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk. – Oprah Winfrey

I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go. – Langston Hughes

I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try. – Nikki Giovanni

If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. – Marcus Garvey

If you stop struggling, then you stop life. – Huey Newton

Life has two rules: number , never quit! Number , always remember rule number one. – Duke Ellington

Life is a system of half-truths and lies, opportunistic, convenient evasion. – Langston Hughes

Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift. – Oprah Winfrey

No hay que llorar/ Que la vida es un carnaval. (There’s no need to cry. Life is a carnival). – Celia Cruz

One of the hardest things in life to learn are which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn. – Oprah Winfrey

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. – Booker T. Washington

The secret of life is to have no fear; it’s the only way to function. – Stokely Carmichael

About Love

I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear. – Oprah Winfrey

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. – Martin Luther King, Jr

Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. – Shonda Rhimes

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it. – Martin Luther King, Jr

I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart. – Alice Walker

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.

If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with. – Michael Jackson

It was when I realized I needed to stop trying to be somebody else and be myself, I actually started to own, accept and love what I had. – Tracee Ellis Ross

Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. – Ella Fitzgerald

Let us dream of tomorrow where we can truly love from the soul, and know love as the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation. – Michael Jackson

Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it allows me to survive, and better than that, to thrive with passion, compassion, and style.” Maya Angelou

Some say we are responsible for those we love. Others know we are responsible for those who love us. – Nikki Giovanni

The sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love. – Pearl Bailey

The times may have changed, but the people are still the same. We’re still looking for love, and that will always be our struggle as human beings. – Halle Berry

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

When you put love out in the world it travels, and it can touch people and reach people in ways that we never even expected. – Laverne Cox

You can only become accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. – Maya Angelou

A traditional soul food dinner consisting of fried chicken with macaroni and cheese, collard greens, breaded fried okra and cornbread

A traditional soul food dinner consisting of fried chicken with macaroni and cheese, collard greens, breaded fried okra and cornbread

Quotes From Wikiquote

  • I am Black. 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, as quoted in The Greatest.
  • 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, “Certain Unalienable Rights”, What the Negro Wants, edited by Rayford W. Logan.
  • I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. When I go to Las Vegas, north Las Vegas, and I would see these little government houses, and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothin’ to do. They didn’t have nothin’ for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothin’ for their young girls to do. And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.
    • Cliven Bundy, 2014-04-19, quoted in Adam Nagourney (2014-04-23). “A Defiant Rancher Savors the Audience That Rallied to His Side”. The New York Times.
  • The workings of the human mind are the profoundest mystery of the universe. One moment they make us despair of our kind, and the next we see in them the reflection of the divine image.
    • Charles W. Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition.
  • The notion that slavery was beneficial to slaves was notably expressed by Jefferson Davis himself, in the posthumously published memoir he wrote at Beauvoir. Enslaved Africans sent to America were “enlightened by the rays of Christianity,” he wrote, and “increased from a few unprofitable savages to millions of efficient Christian laborers. Their servile instincts rendered them contented with their lot….Never was there a happier dependence of labor and capital upon each other.”
    • Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881); as qtd. in Brian Palmer and Seth Freed Wessler, “The Costs of the Confederacy”, Smithsonian, (December 2018).
  • 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 warrings ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
    • W.E.B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk.
  • The seal and the constitution, reflects the thinking of the founding fathers that this was to be a nation by white people, and for white people. Native Americans, Blacks, and all other non-white people, were to be the burden bearers for the real citizens of this nation.
    • Louis Farrakhan, “The Million Man March” (1995).
  • ‘We, the people.’ It is a very eloquent beginning. But when that document [the Preamble to the US Constitution] 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, Statement made on July 25, 1974 before the House Committee on the Judiciary.
  • We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.
    • James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.
  • 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.’
    • Martin Luther King Jr., speech to the Montgomery Improvement Association (5 December 1955).
  • We’ve known for some time that racism limited blacks’ housing options in ways that lowered the value of homes. De jure and de facto segregation — racially restrictive housing covenants that prohibited blacks from buying in certain areas throughout the 20th century — and racially biased redlining from the 1930s beyond the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — which deemed majority-black neighborhoods too risky for mortgage lenders — isolated blacks in areas that realized lower levels of investment than their white counterparts. Our new data shows that in the average US metropolitan area, homes in neighborhoods where the share of the population is at least 50% black are valued at roughly half the price as homes in neighborhoods with little to no black residents.
    Even for those who acknowledge our racist history, the 50% price difference isn’t about racial bias; it’s about accepting the effects of the past at face value. It’s assumed lower housing quality, underfunded schools and crime — all consequences of racism and poverty — set a deserving price point. Our study tested those assumptions.
    We examined homes of similar quality in congruent neighborhoods — with the exception of the racial demographics — to make an apples-to-apples comparison between places where the share of the black population is 50% or higher and those where there are little to no black residents. What we found astounds. Differences in home and neighborhood quality do not fully explain the price difference. Homes of similar quality in neighborhoods with similar amenities are worth 23% less in majority-black neighborhoods, compared to those with very few or no black residents. After accounting for factors such as housing quality, neighborhood quality, education and crime, owner-occupied homes in black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to a whopping $156 billion that homeowners would have received if their homes were priced at market rates.

    • Andre Perry, “Homeowners have lost $156 billion by living in a ‘black neighborhood’”, CNN Business Perspectives, (December 7, 2018).
  • The common goal of 22 million Afro-Americans is respect as human beings, the God-given right to be a human being. Our common goal is to obtain the human rights that America has been denying us. We can never get civil rights in America until our human rights are first restored. We will never be recognized as citizens there until we are first recognized as humans.
    • Malcom X, “Racism: the Cancer that is Destroying America”, in Egyptian Gazette.
  • Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, colored men looking for loans and whites who “understand the Negro”.
    • Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., “The Soapbox”, The New York Amsterdam News (June 6, 1936), p. 12.
  • Freedom is never given; it is won.
    • A. Phillip Randolph, Keynote speech given in 1937 at the Second National Negro Congress.
  • 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. Is that clear?
    • Paul Robeson, testimony on June 12. 1956 before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
  • If there ever was a monolithic ‘black America’—absolutely and uniformly deprived and aggrieved, with invariant values and attitudes—there certainly isn’t one now.
    • Eugene Robinson in 2007, [1]
  • Never that! In this white man’s world. They can’t stop us, we been here all this time, they ain’t took us out… They can never take us out! No matter what they say! About us being extinct, about us being.. Endangered species, we ain’t neva gonn’ leave this! We ain’t never gonna walk off this planet.. Unless you choose to! Use your brains! Use your brains! It ain’t them thats killing us, it’s us that’s killing us… It ain’t them that’s knockin’ us off, It’s us thats knockin’ us off, I’m tellin you, you better watch it or be a victim… Be a victim in this white manz world.
    • Tupac Amaru Shakur “White Manz World”.
  • The failure to capitalize Black when it is synonymous with African American is a matter of unintended racism, to put the best possible face on it.
    • Robert S. Wachal, “The Capitalization of Black and Native American,” American Speech, vol. 75, no. 4 (Winter 2000), pp. 364–65. Quoted in African American Philosophers and Philosophy: An Introduction to the History, Concepts and Contemporary Issues (2019) by Stephen Ferguson II and John McClendon III, p. 6, Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • A lot of joblessness in the black community doesn’t seem to be reachable through fiscal and monetary policies. People have not been drawn into the labor market even during periods of economic recovery. Our study clearly shows that employers would rather not hire a lot of workers from the inner city. They feel people from the inner city are not job-ready, that the kids have been poorly educated, that they can’t read, they can’t write, they can’t speak.
  • Affirmative action has to be combined with a broader program of social reform that would emphasize social rights: the right to employment, the right to education, the right to good health. Over the years, black leaders have been slow to recognize the need for a very, very progressive agenda. Anytime someone has talked about putting America back to work, blacks should have said yes, but they didn’t. They were so preoccupied with affirmative action that they didn’t provide the kind of leadership that would help some of the other progressive folks. Only now are black leaders beginning to realize the impact of economic issues.
  • William Julius Wilson, interview with Mother Jones magazine, September/October 1996 issue. [2].
  • 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, “The Celebration of Negro History Week”, Journal of Negro History (April 1927).

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