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Below is a small sampling of the amazing thoughts and contributions African-Americans have made to the American culture. If you are interested on learning more about any one of these interesting individuals, simply click on his or her name for a brief biography.

Ralph Abernathy

  • "I don't know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future."

  • "Bring on your tear gas, bring on your grenades, your new supplies of Mace, your state troopers and even your national guards. But let the record show we ain't going to be turned around."

  • "Christians should be ready for a change because Jesus was the greatest changer in history."

  • "I'm sick and tired of black and white people of good intent giving aspirin to a society that is dying of a cancerous disease."

Muhammad Ali

  • "A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life."

  • "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

  • "Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong."

  • "It's not bragging if you can back it up."

  • "A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing."

  • "Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are."

  • "Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything."

  • "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

  • "The man who has no imagination has no wings."

Marian Anderson

  • "You lose a lot of time, hating people."

  • "Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman."

  • "As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might."

  • "Prejudice is like a hair across your cheek. You can't see it, you can't find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating."

  • "None of us is responsible for the complexion of his skin. The fact of nature offers no clue to the character or quality of the person underneath."

Maya Angelou

  • "We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated."

  • "I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it."

  • "The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart."

  • "I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver."

  • "Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."

James Baldwin

  • "American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anyone has ever said about it."

  • "Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent."

  • "Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor."

  • "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

  • "Education is indoctrination if you're white - subjugation if you're black."

  • "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."

George Washington Carver

  • "Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater."

  • "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom."

  • "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to use every hour, if we will only tune in."

  • "No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving something behind."

  • "There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation - veneer isn't worth anything."

Bill Cosby

  • "Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it."

  • "Gray hair is God's graffiti."

  • "Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home."

  • "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."

  • "It's not a matter of black is beautiful as much as it is white is not all that's beautiful."

Ossie Davis

  • "Struggle is strengthening. Battling with evil gives us the power to battle evil even more."

  • "Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change. It cannot only move us, it makes us move."

  • "I find in being black, a thing of beauty; a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness."

  • "It's not the man, it's the plan. It's not the rap, it's the map."

Frederick Douglass

  • "A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it."

  • "A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me."

  • "A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people."

  • "If there is not struggle, there is no progress."

  • "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

  • "The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous."

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."

  • "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression."

  • "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line."

  • "One ever feels his twoness - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unrecoiled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

  • "There is in this world no such force as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained."

  • "Believe in human life!"

  • "Education is that whole system of human training within and without the school house walls, which molds and develops men."

  • "Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year."

Langston Hughes

  • "Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly."

  • "I will not take 'but' for an answer."

  • "I swear to the Lord I still can't see why Democracy means everybody but me."

  • "Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you."

  • "While over Alabama earth These words are gently spoken: Serve - and hate will die unborn. Love - and chains are broken."

Zora Neale Hurston

  • "A thing is mighty big when time and distance cannot shrink it."

  • "Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear."

  • "It seems that fighting is a game where everybody is a loser."

  • "It seems to me that trying to live without friends is like milking a bear to get cream for your morning coffee. It is a whole lot of trouble, and then not worth much after you get it."

  • "Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose."

Mae Jemison

  • "More women should demand to be involved. It's our right."

  • "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."

  • "It is important for scientists to be aware of what our discoveries mena, socially and politically."

  • "I'm very aware of the fact that I'm not the first African-American woman who had the skills, the talent, the desire to be an astronaut. I happen to be the first one NASA selected."

Martin Luther King,Jr.

  • "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."

  • "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

  • "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."

  • Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

  • "A riot is the language of the unheard."

Malcolm X

  • "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

  • "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

  • "I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color."

  • "If you're not ready to die for it, put the word 'freedom' out of your vocabulary."

  • "My alma mater was books, a good library - I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfing my curiosity."

Toni Morrison

  • "Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form."

  • "Everywhere, everywhere, children are the scorned people of the earth."

  • "Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another."

  • "I get angry about things, then go on and work."

  • "If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must write it."

Jesse Owens

  • "Find the good. It's all around you. Find it, showcase it, and you'll start believing in it."

  • "The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us - that's where it's at."

  • "The only bond worth anything between human beings is their humanness."

  • "We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort."

Rosa Parks

  • "I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people."

  • "I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move."

  • "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this dimishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear."

  • "Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again?"

  • "I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don't think there is anything such as complete happiness. It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism."

Colin Powell

  • "A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work."

  • "Don't bother people for help without first trying to solve the problem yourself."

  • "Experts often possess more data than judgment."

  • "Get mad, then get over it."

  • "War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support."

  • "Perpetual optimism is a forceful multiplier."

  • "Fit no stereotypes. Don't chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission."

Sojourner Truth

  • "That little man in black over there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him."

  • "If women want any rights more than they's got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it."

  • "Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff."

Harriet Tubman

  • "I grew up like a neglected weed - ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it."

  • "Quaker's almost as good as colored. They call themselves friends and you can trust them every time."

  • "I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."

Booker T. Washington

  • "Character is power."

  • "I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him."

  • "If you can't read, it's going to be hard to realize dreams."

  • "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."

  • "Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way."

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Copyright © 2007 by Catherine M. Wishart. All rights reserved.