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Quotations #27:
African American Expression

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Selected Biographical Notes

- A -
  1. I never doubted my ability, but when you hear all your life you're inferior, it makes you wonder if the other guys have something you've never seen before. If they do, I'm still looking for it.
    --Hank Aaron (Henry Louis Aaron), 1992


  2. I'm not comfortable being preachy, but more people need to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court. If they took the idea that they could escape poverty through education, I think it would make a more basic and long-lasting change in the way things happen. What we need are positive, realistic goals and the willingness to work. Hard work and practical goals.
    --Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.), 1990


  3. You can't win unless you learn how to lose.
    --Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1990


  4. I don't know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future.
    --Ralph Abernathy


  5. 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.
    --Muhammd Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay), 1975


  6. Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them--a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.
    --Muhammed Ali, 1975


  7. It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.
    --Muhammed Ali, 1977


  8. Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don't let yourself believe it will happen to you.
    --Muhammed Ali, 1975


  9. I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.
    --Muhammed Ali, 1964


  10. I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own.
    --Muhammed Ali, 1967


  11. This land, which we have watered with our tears and our blood, is now our mother country, and we are well satisfied to stay where wisdom abounds and gospel is free.
      -- Richard Allen


  12. Whereas our ancestors (not of choice) were the first successful cultivators of the wilds of America, we their descendants feel ourselves entitled to participate in the blessings of her luxuriant soil.
      -- Richard Allen


  13. None of us is responsible for the complexion of his skin. This fact of nature offers no clue to the character or quality of the person underneath.
    --Marian Anderson, 1941


  14. There are many persons ready to do what is right because in their hearts they know it is right. But they hesitate, waiting for the other fellow to make the first move, and he, waits for you. The minute a person whose word means a great deal dares to take the open-hearted and courageous way, many others follows. Not everyone can be turned aside from meanness and hatred, but the great majority of Americans is heading in that direction. I have a great belief in the future of my people and my country.
      -- Marian Anderson


  15. It is easy to look back, self-indulgently, feeling pleasantly sorry for oneself and saying I didn't have this and I didn't have that. But it is only the grown woman regretting the hardships of a little girl who never thought they were hardships at all. She had the things that really mattered.
    --Marian Anderson, 1956


  16. 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.
      -- Marian Anderson


  17. I have a great belief in the future of my people and my country.
    --Marian Anderson, 1960


  18. You lose a lot of time, hating people.
    --Marian Anderson, 1965


  19. Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman.
    --Marian Anderson


  20. I suppose I might insist on making issues of things. But that is not my nature, and I always bear in ming that my mission is to leave behind me the kind of impression that will make it easier for those who follow.
    --Marian Anderson


  21. Prayer begins where human capacity ends.
      -- Marian Anderson


  22. 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.
      -- Marian Anderson


  23. Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.
      -- Marian Anderson


  24. We really are fifteen different countries and it's really remarkable that each of us thinks we represent the real America. The midwesterner in Kansas, the black American in Durham--both are certain they are the real American.

    --Maya Angelou (Marguerite Johnson), 1978


  25. Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaken need for an unshakable God.
    --Maya Angelou, 1970


  26. By no amount of agile exercising of a wistful imagination could my mother have been called lenient. Generous she was; indulgent never. Kind, yes, permissive, never. In her world, people she accepted paddled their own canoes, pulled their own weight, put their own shoulders to their own plows and pushed like hell.
    --Maya Angelou, 1974


  27. I find it interresting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at commensurate speed.
    --Maya Angelou, 1970


  28. If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.
    --Maya Angelou, 1992


  29. I am overwhelmed by the grace and persistence of my people.
    --Maya Angelou, 1992


  30. The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago.
    --Louis Armstrong, 1944


  31. There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell them.
    --Louis Armstrong, 1956


  32. We all do 'do, re, mi,' but you have got to find the other notes yourself.
    --Louis Armstrong, 1956, on Jazz


  33. A wise person speaks carefully and with truth, for every word that passes between one's teeth is meant for something.
    --Molefi Kete Asante (Arthur Lee Smith), 1988


  34. Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.
    --Arthur Ashe, in Sports Illustrated, July 1991


  35. True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost
    --Arthur Ashe


  36. In America you're conditioned to regard everything as a contest. You have to make the Ten Best Dressed List, win this, win that. It drives me nuts sometimes. Who cares, for Christ's sake?
    --Arthur Ashe


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


  38. If I don't win tonight I guess the sun will still come up in the morning.
    --Arthur Ashe




- B -
  1. A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive.
    --Pearl Bailey, 1971


  2. People see God every day, they just don't recognize him.
    --Pearl Bailey, 1967


  3. When you're young, the silliest notions seem the greatest achievements.
    --Pearl Bailey, 1968


  4. There is a way to look at the past. Don't hide from it. It will not catch you if you don't repeat it.
    --Pearl Bailey, 1993


  5. You leave home to seek your fortune and, when you get it, you go home and share it with your family.
    --Anita Baker


  6. Applause felt like approval, and it became a drug that soothed the pain, but only temporarily.
    --Anita Baker


  7. At home I'm relaxed. I may be in the yard talking to neighbors, or riding my bike, or fishing, making up the bed-and things just come to me. I'll hum a melody, and if it feels real good, I'll play it on the piano and put it on tape, and then develop it later. The music speaks words to me.
    --Anita Baker


  8. Long tresses down to the floor can be beautiful, if you have that, but learn to love what you have.
    --Anita Baker


  9. The things we truly love stay with us always, locked in our hearts as long as life remains.
    --Josephine Baker, 1940


  10. A violinist had a violin, a painer his palette. All I had was myself. I was the instrument that I must care for.
    --Josephine Baker


  11. I believe in prayer. It's the best way we have to draw strength from heaven.
    --Josephine Baker


  12. 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.
    --James Baldwin, 1955


  13. Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.
    --James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son, 1955


  14. I imagine that one of the reasons that people cling to their hates so stubbornly is becaue they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with the pain.
    --James Baldwin, 1955


  15. I want to be an honest man and a good writer.
    --James Baldwin, 1955


  16. The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
    --James Baldwin, 1961


  17. 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, 1961


  18. People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.
    --James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name, 1961


  19. The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.
    --James Baldwin, 1961


  20. No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it.
    --James Baldwin


  21. To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.
    --James Baldwin, 1962


  22. The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world's definitions.
    --James Baldwin, 1962


  23. The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
    --James Baldwin, 1962


  24. Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.
    --James Baldwin, 1962


  25. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.
    --James Baldwin, 1962


  26. The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power--and no one holds power forever.
    --James Baldwin, 1962


  27. I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.
    --James Baldwin, 1984


  28. When I used to live in the Brewster Projects, I always thought it would be fantastic to have a phone. I would dream about a phone.
    --Florence Ballard, 1966


  29. If I weren't earning more than $3 million a year to dunk a basketball, most people on the street would run in the other direction if they saw me coming.
    --Charles Barkley, 1993


  30. I don't care what people think. people are stupid.
    --Charles Barkley


  31. Kids are great. That's one of the best things about our business, all the kids you get to meet. It's a shame they have to grow up to be regular people and come to the games and call you names.
    --Charles Barkley, 1993


  32. I don't think of myself as giving interviews. I just have conversations. That gets me in trouble.
    --Charles Barkley


  33. I know I'm never as good or bad as one single performance. I've never believed in my critics or my worshippers, and I've always been able to leave the game at the arena.
    --Charles Barkley


  34. I'm not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids.
    --Charles Barkley


  35. Poor people cannot rely on the government to come to help you in times of need. You have to get your education. Then nobody can control your destiny.
    --Charles Barkley


  36. These are my new shoes. They're good shoes. They won't make you rich like me, they won't make you rebound like me, they definitely won't make you handsome like me. They'll only make you have shoes like me. That's it.
    --Charles Barkley


  37. Of course, there are a lot of ways you can treat the blues, but it will still be the blues.
    --Count Basie


  38. It appears that my worst fears have been realized: we have made progress in everything yet nothing has changed.
    --Derrick Bell, 1987


  39. Beauty is not just physical.
    --Halle Berry


  40. I know that I will never find my father in any other man who comes into my life, because it is a void in my life that can only be filled by him.
    --Halle Berry


  41. It is very hard to separate one's self from a character. Sometimes the people closest to me have to be very understanding.
    --Halle Berry


  42. The man for me is the cherry on the pie. But I'm the pie, and my pie is good all by itself. Even if I don't have a cherry.
    --Halle Berry


  43. 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


  44. When I was a kid, my mother told me that if you could not be a good loser, then there's no way you could be a good winner.
    --Halle Berry


  45. You have to get the audience invested even if you're doing something that they think is dumb, it's kind of what these movies are all about.
    --Halle Berry


  46. We have a powerful potential in out youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.
    --Mary MacLeod Bethune, 1955


  47. Knowledge is the prime need of the hour
    --Mary Macleod Bethune, 1955


  48. I don't have any bad habbits. They might be bad habits for other people, but they're all right for me.
    --Eubie Blake, 1979


  49. If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.
    --Eubie Blake, 1980


  50. The people in your life are important. Meaningful relationships with those people are very important.
    --Ed Bradley


  51. Be prepared, work hard, and hope for a little luck. Recognize that the harder you work and the better prepared you are, the more luck you might have.
    --Ed Bradley


  52. I had had no training as a journalist and I used to listen to the CBS News hourly reports. That was my classroom.
    --Ed Bradley


  53. I will not go into a story unprepared. I will do my homework, and that's something I learned at an early age.
    --Ed Bradley


  54. Art hurts. Art urges voyages--and it is easier to stay at home.
    --Gwendolyn Brooks


  55. A writer should get as much education as possible, but just going to school is not enough; if it were, all owners of doctorates would be inspired writers.
    --Gwendolyn Brooks


  56. Look at what's happening in this world. Every day there's something exciting or disturbing to write about. With all that's going on, how could I stop?
    --Gwendolyn Brooks


  57. Poetry is life distilled.
    --Gwendolyn Brooks


  58. Very early in life I became fascinated with the wonders language can achieve. And I began playing with words.
    --Gwendolyn Brooks


  59. When you love a man, he becomes more than a body. His physical limbs expand, and his outline recedes, vanishes. He is rich and sweet and right. He is part of the world, the atmosphere, the blue sky and the blue water.
    --Gwendolyn Brooks


  60. Despite everything that Harlem did to our generation, I think it gave something to a few. It gave them a strength that couldn't be obtained anywhere else.
    --Claude Brown, 1965


  61. Sometimes you struggle so hard to feed your family one way, you forget to feed them the other way, with spiritual nourishment. Everybody needs that.
    --James Brown, 1986


  62. When I'm on stage, I'm trying to do one thing: bring people joy. Just like church does. People don't go to church to find trouble, they go there to lose it.
    --James Brown, 1986


  63. Propaganda, however legitimate, can speak no louder than the truth.
    --Sterling Brown, 1930


  64. Despotism increases in severity with the number of despots; the responsibility is more divided, and the claims are more numerous.
    --William Wells Brown, 1849


  65. We, as individuals, are fast losing our reputation for honest dealing. Our nation is losing its character. The loss of a firm national character, or the degredation of a nation's honour, is the inevitable prelude to her destruction.
    --William Wells Brown, 1849




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