Quotes: Hank Aaron – Ralph Ellison


Hank Aaron
A white child might need a role model, but a black child needs more than that in this society. He needs hope.
On the field, blacks have been able to be super giants. But once our playing days are over, this is the end of it, and we
go back to the back of the bus.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
All the competitiveness of Jackie Robinson affects me to this day. If I patented my life after anyone, it was him, not
because he was the first black baseball player but because he was a hero.
Popular Black Aphorisms. If you can’t bear no crosses, you can’t bear no crown.
All poor people ain’t black and all black people ain’t poor.
Every shuteye ain’t sleep and every good-bye ain’t gone.
Tell the truth and shame the devil.
The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.
The big bee flies high, the little bee makes the honey; the black folks make the cotton, and the white folks make the

Alvin Ailey
I am a person who never totally escaped the scars of my childhood. Racism, which leaves shadow on one’s sense of
accomplishment, can make one feel like a perpetual outsider.
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)
Being a man is a continuing battle for one’s life. One loses a bit of manhood with every stale compromise to the
authority of any power in which one does not believe.

Muhammad Ali

The man that views his world at fifty the same way he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
I am an American, I am the part you don’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.
Richard Allen
This land, which we watered with our tears and blood, is now our mother country, and we are well satisfied to stay
where wisdom abounds and the gospel is free.

Marian Anderson
(on bigotry) Sometimes it’s like the 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 feeling of it irritating.
Maya Angelou
The black woman I the south who raise sons, grandsons and nephews had her heartstrings tied to a hanging noose.
Bringing gifts that my ancestors gave. I am the dream of the hope of the slave, I rise, I rise, I rise.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you
made them feel.

Louis Armstrong
There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them.

Arthur Ashe
Being a black man in America is like having another job.
Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.
We see basketball players and popular singers as possible role models, when nothing could be further, in most cases,
from their capacities. We blacks look for leadership in men and women of such youth and inexperience, as well as
poverty of education and character, that it is no wonder that we sometimes seem rudderless.

James Baldwin
They saw themselves as others had seen them. They had been formed by the images made of them by those who
had had the deepest necessity to despise them.
To be born into a free society and not be born free is to be born into a lie.
The most dangerous creation in any society is that man who has nothing to lose.
The black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar; and as he moves out of
his place, heaven and earth are heaven are shaken to its foundations.

Imamu Amiri Baraka ( LeRoi Jones)
In America black I as country.
The black artists role in America is to aid in the destruction of America as he knows it.

Melba Pattillo Beals
If someone called me names or spat on me, or kicked me in the shin, or walked on my heel, I thought I could not
make it one more moment. But each time I would go home, my grandmother would point out that what I’m doing is
not for myself, but for generations yet unborn.

Romare Bearden
I am a man concerned with truth, not flattery; who shares a dual culture that is unwilling to deny the Harlem where I
grew up or the Haarlem of the Dutch masters that contributed its element into my understanding of art.

Derrick Bell
It appears that my worst fears have been realized, we have made progress in everything, yet nothing has changed.

Lerone Bennett, Jr.
History tells us that a natin can survive for years by shifting the burdens of life to the people confined by force and
violence to the bottom.
An educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor.
It is not true as many commentators have said, that Nat Turner initiated a wave of violence in Southhampton, Va. The
violence was already there; Slavery was violence.

Mary Mcleod Bethune
I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a
single negro boy or girl without a chance to prove their worth.
Julian Bond
Violence is black children going to school for twelve years and receiving six years’ worth of education.
The system conceded to black people the right to sit up front in the bus- a hollow victory when one’s longest trip is
likely to be from the feudal south to the mechanized poverty of the north.

Arna Bontemps
If there can be returning after death, I shall come back But it will o=not be here; if you want me you must search for
me beneath the palms of Africa.
Let us keep the dance of rain our father’s kept and tread our dreams beneath the jungle sky.

Donna Brazile
If you’re not out front defining your vision, your opponent will spend gobs of money to define it for you,
Lou Brock
Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time. Nathaniel Bonner , Sr.
You can’t fly with eagles if you hang out with turkeys.

Gwendolyn Brooks
When I was a child, it did not occur to me, even once, that the black in which I was encased would be considered, one
day, beautiful.

Claude Brown
The children of disillusioned colored pioneers inherited the total lot of their parents-the disappointments, the anger.
To add to their misery, they had little hope of deliverance. For where does one run when he’s already in the promised

James Brown
Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.
I’ve been in slavery all my life. Ain’t nothing changed for me but the address.

Les Brown
No on rises to low expectations.
When life knocks you down, try to fall on your back because if you can look up, you can get up.

Ron H. Brown
(in the sixties) People were going to bed Negro and waking up black. There were major psychological changes going

William Wells Brown
All I demand for the black man is, that white people shall take their heels off their necks and let him have a chance to
rise by his own efforts.
Sad to say, Jefferson is not the only American statesman who has spoken high-sounding words in favor of freedom,
and then left his own children to die slaves.
Society does not frown upon the man who sits with his mulatto child upon his knee, whilst his mother stands a slave
behind the chair.

Ralph Bunche
We must fight as a race for everything that makes for a better country and a better world. We are dreaming idiots and
trusting fools to do anything less.
Nannie Burroughs
It will profit the Negro nothing to enter an ungodly competition for material possessions when he has gifts of greater
value The most valuable contribution which he can make to American civilization must be made out of his spiritual

Bebe Moore Campbell
Emmett Till was a very real ghost-like figure in my life and in the lives of a lot of blacks. He catapulted us into civil
rights. He dies and was murdered in August 1955, and the following December Rosa Parks refused to move on the
bus in Birmingham.

Geoffrey Canada
The greatest risk of being a poor black boy in the ghetto was that you would be robbed of the most sacred thing you
had, your manhood.
We are in a state of war in the inner cities. I call it America’s secret war against itself…and the war’s chief victims are

Stokley Carmichael
We’ve been saying freedom for six years and we ain’t got nothin’. What we gonna start saying now is “Black Power”!
Our grandfathers had to run, run, run. My generation’s out of breath. We ain’t running no more.

Bette Carter
If you wanted to get into Jazz, you had to go downtown where the pimps, prostitutes, hustlers, gangsters and
gamblers supported the music. They supported the club owners who bought the music. It wasn’t middle-class white
people who said, “ Let’s go hear Charlie Parker tonight”.
George Washington Carver
When I was a child, my owner saw what he considered to be a good business deal including a check stubs software and immediately accepted it. He
traded me off for a horse.

Wilt Chamberlain
Everybody pulls for David, nobody roots for Goliath.

Ray Charles
Soul music is like electricity- we don’t know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.
Soul is a way of life, but it’s always the hard way.
My music had roots which I’d dug up from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil.

Charles W. Chestnutt
Race prejudice is the devil unchained.
Sins, like chickens, come home to roost.
There’s time enough, but none to spare.

Alice Childress
The black writer explains pain to those who inflict it.
Writers are encouraged to “ keep them laughing” and complain “ with good humor” in order to “win” allies. The joke
is always on ourselves.
I believe racism has killed more people than speed, heroin or cancer, and will continue to kill until there is no more.

Shirley Chisholm
Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread, and deep-seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal.
When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.

John Henrik Clarke
It is time for blacks to stop playing the separating game of geography, or where the slave ship put us down. We must
concentrate on where the slave ship picked us up.
We need a revolution inside our own minds.

Eldridge Cleaver
The enemies of black people have learned something from history and they’re discovering new ways to divide us
faster than we are discovering how to unite.
You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.

Lucille Clifton
(on slavery) Even the good parts was awful.
We have a generation enslaving itself to drugs, young men and women doing to our race what slavery couldn’t.
Sometimes I think the most anger comes from ones who were late in discovering that when the world said nigger it
meant them too.

Jonetta B. Cole
In the long run the real horror of oppression is that it can rob people of their will to try, and make them take
themselves out of the running of life.
The legacy of courage left by deed heroic black women was amassed deed by deed, day by day, without praise or

Nat “King’ Cole
Sponsors don’t have guts. Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.

Marva Williams
(of her students) None of you have ever failed. School may have failed you.

Anna Julia Cooper
Only the black woman can say, “ when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without
violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.
Woman- Mother- your responsibility is one that might make angels tremble and fear to tread.

Alexander Crummell
There is no repugnance to the Negro buffoon, and the Negro scullion; but so soon as the negro stands forth as an
intellectual being, this toad of American prejudice, as at the touch of Tauriel’s spear, starts up the devil.

Countee Cullen
We must be one thing or the other, an asset or a liability, the sinew in your wing to help you soar or the chain to bind
you to earth.

Everlyn Cunningham
Paris is beautiful in the spring, but so is Harlem. Harlem is my home, and I will never leave it.
Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.

Angela Davis
We know that the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.
“Justifiable Homicide” – these innocuously official words conjure up the untold numbers of unavenged murders or my

Miles Davis
I have always thought that narcotics should be legalized so that it wouldn’t be that much of a street problem.
They ought to pick more fair-minded people to be police officers , because the job’s too important to have any kind of
racist white person walking around with a gun and a license to kill.

Ossie Davis
I find in being black, a thing of beauty, a joy, a strength, a secret cup of gladness. A native land in neither time nor
space, a native land in every Negro face! Be loyal to yourselves, your skin, your hair, your lips, your Southern speech,
your laughing kindness, your Negro kingdom, vast as any other.

Sammy Davis, Jr.
Being a star made it possible to get insulted in places where the average Negro could ever hope to go to get insulted.
All I really had was my talent. Without that I wouldn’t be welcome at the White House.
Ten or fifteen years ago, you could tell the brothers from the cousins. Not anymore. Everyone sounds black- except
John Denver.

Ruby Dee
God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do everything I fear.

Martin Delany
We must Make an Issue, Create an Event, and establish a National Position for Ourselves, and never expect to be
respected as men and women, until we have undertaken some fearless, bold, and adventurous deeds of daringcontending against every odds- regardless of every consequence.

Bessie( Anne Elizabeth) Delany
Money is the root of every mess you can think of, including slavery.

Samuel Delany
The racial situation, permeable as it might seem, ( and yes it is highly permeable) is nevertheless your permanent
The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal , because they alone, by questioning the
society’s values can force it to change.

David Dinkins
You can believe that almost any black who holds office or aspires to hold office is obliged to have a view on
controversial black figures. I’d like to ask about controversial white figures for a change.
Race relations can be an appropriate issue…. But only if you want to craft solutions, and not catalogue complaints.

Frederick Douglass
You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.
It seems to me that the colored man haws now as much need for a faithful advocate as in the time of slavery. Though
no longer bought and sold in the marketplace we are still a proscribed, oppressed, and maltreated race at nearly all
The doctrine that submission to violence is the best cure for violence did not hold good between slaves and
overseers. He was whipped oftener who was whipped easiest.
In coming to a fixed determination to run away, we did more than Patrick Henry when he resolved upon liberty or
death., With us it was doubtful liberty at most, and almost certain death if we failed. For my part I should prefer death
to hopeless bondage.
Sit no longer blind, Lord God, deaf to our prayer, and dumb to our dumb suffering. Surely Thou art not white, Oh
Lord, a pale, bloodless, heartless thing?

Paul Laurence Dunbar
We Negroes love our country. We fought for it. We ask only that we be treated as well as those who fought against it.
I know why the cages bird sings, ah me, When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore, when he beats his bars and
would be free; it is not a carol of joy or glee, but prayer that he sends from his heart deep core.
We wear a mask that grins and lies.

Katherine Dunham
We weren’t pushing black is beautiful. We just showed it.
Michael Eric Dyson
Rosa Parks sat down with dignity so that all black people could stand up with pride.
Gangsta rap often reaches higher than its ugliest, lowest common denominator…At its best, this music draws
attention into complex dimensions of ghetto life ignored by most Americans. Indeed, gangsta rap’s in-your-face style
may do more to force America to confront crucial social problems than a million sermons or political speeches.

Marian Wright Edelman
It’s a spiritually impoverished nation that permits infants and children to be the poorest Americans.
All of our Mercedes Benzes and Halston frocks will not hide our essential failure as a generation of black “haves” who
did not protect the black future on our own watch.

Joycelyn Elders
(On sex education) We’ve tried ignorance for a thousand years. It’s time we tried education.
Anti-abortionists love little babies as long as they are somebody else’s uterus.
I came to Washington as prime steak, and after being there a little while I feel like low grade hamburger.
If you can’t control your reproduction, you can’t control your life.

Duke Ellington
The common roots for Jazz, blues, ragtime, swing and bop, of course come out of Africa. The African pulse.
Life has two rules: Number 1, never quit! Number 2, always remember rule number 1.

Ralph Ellison
When I discover who I am. I’ll be free.
I am an invisible man… I am a man of substance, of flesh and one, fiber an liquids- and I might even be said to
possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having one time been
Harlem is a place where our folklore is preserved and transformed. It is the place where the body of our Negro myth
and legend thrives. It is a place where our styles, musical styles, the many styles of Negro life, find continuity and