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Quotations #27:
African American Expression

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Selected Biographical Notes

- C -
  1. My audience was my life. What I did and how I did it, was all for my audience.
    --Cab Calloway, 1988

  2. There is a higher law than the law of government. That's the law of conscience.
      -- Stokley Carmichael


  3. The first need of a free people is to define their own terms.
      -- Stokley Carmichael


  4. Our creator is the same and never changes despite the names given Him by people here and in all parts of the world. Even if we gave Him no name at all, He would still be there, within us, waiting to give us good on this earth.
    --George Washington Carver, 1907

  5. When our thoughts--which bring actions--are filled with hate against anyone, Negro or white, we are in a living hell. That is as real as hell will ever be.
    --George Washington Carver, 1911

  6. No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind
    --George Washington Carver, 1915

  7. Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater.
    --George Washington Carver

  8. We have become ninety-nine percent money mad. The method of living at home modestly and within our income, laying a little by systematically for the proverbial rainy day which is due to come, can almost be listed among the lost arts.
    --George Washington Carver, 1931

  9. My older sister encouraged me from early on and bought me one of the first guitars I had. She listened to all of the crappy songs that I wrote when I was 8 years old and encouraged me to keep doing it.
    --Tracy Chapman

  10. We have more media than ever and more technology in our lives. It's supposed to help us communicate, but it has the opposite effect of isolating us.
    --Tracy Chapman

  11. My version of "Georgia" became the state song of Georgia. That was a big thing for me, man. It really touched me. Here is a state that used to lynch people like me suddenly declaring my version of a song as its state song. That is touching.
      -- Ray Charles


  12. When I started to sing like myself - as opposed to imitating Nat Cole, which I had done for a while - when I started singing like Ray Charles, it had this spiritual and churchy, this religious or gospel sound. It had this holiness and preachy tone to it. It was very controversial. I got a lot of criticism for it.
      -- Ray Charles


  13. I never considered myself part of rock 'n' roll. My stuff was more adult. It was more difficult for teenagers to relate to; my stuff was filled with more despair than anything you'd associate with rock 'n' roll. Since I couldn't see people dancing, I didn't write jitterbugs or twists. I wrote rhythms that moved me. My style requires pure heart singing.
      -- Ray Charles


  14. Love is a special word, and I use it only when I mean it. You say the word too much and it becomes cheap.
    --Ray Charles, Brother Ray, 1978

  15. I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't been able to hear.
      -- Ray Charles


  16. I'm not into the money thing. You can only sleep in one bed at a time. You can only eat one meal at a time, or be in one car at a time. So I don't have to have millions of dollars to be happy. All I need are clothes on my back, a decent meal, and a little loving when I feel like it. That's the bottom line.
      -- Ray Charles


  17. I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great.
      -- Ray Charles


  18. There's nothing written in the Bible, Old or New testament, that says, "If you believe in Me, you ain't going to have no troubles."
      -- Ray Charles


  19. I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me--like food or water.
    --Ray Charles, 1978

  20. Affluence separates people. Poverty knits 'em together. You got some sugar and I don't; I borrow some of yours. Next month you might not have any flour; well, I'll give you some of mine.
    --Ray Charles, 1978

  21. Learning to read music in Braille and play by ear helped me develop a damn good memory.
      -- Ray Charles


  22. My music had roots which I'd dug up from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil.
    --Ray Charles, 1978

  23. You ask me what I'd like to do that I haven't done and I say "Nothin!" I haven't any mountains to climb or oceans to swim. I've been an extremely blessed individual. I'm not clamorin' for more trinkets. If I were to die tomorrow, I could say I've had a good life.
      -- Ray Charles


  24. I'd like to think that when I sing a song, I can let you know all about the heartbreak, struggle, lies and kicks in the ass I've gotten over the years for being black and everything else, without actually saying a word about it.
      -- Ray Charles


  25. Music's been around a long time, and there's going to be music long after Ray Charles is dead. I just want to make my mark, leave something musically good behind.
      -- Ray Charles


  26. I've been doing this since I was 10 years old, inhabiting different people and playing different roles. Thirty years later, there's still the same sort of excitement I get from it. It's still fun to inhabit different characters and play different things, so it's all in that panoply of acting.   -- Don Cheadle


  27. It's great to be in a film that's able to have people really want to become socially conscious, to walk out of the theatre and want to do something.   -- Don Cheadle


  28. Impossibilities are merely things of which we have not learned, or which we do not wish to happen.
    --Charles W. Chesnutt, 1901

  29. The workings of the human heart 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, 1901

  30. There's time enough, but none to spare.
    --Charles W. Chesnutt, 1901

  31. As man sows, so shall he reap. In works of fiction, such men are sometimes converted. More often, in real life, they do not change their natures until they are converted into dust.
    --Charles W. Chesnutt, 1901

  32. Selfishness is the most constant of human motives. Patriotism, humanity, or the love of God may lead to sporadic outbursts sweep away the heaped-up wrongs of centuries; but they languish at times, while the love of self works on ceaselessly, unwearyingly, burrowing always at the very root of life, and heaping up fresh wrongs for other centuries to sweep away.
    --Charles W. Chesnutt, 1901

  33. Sins, like chickens, come home to roost.
    --Charles W. Chesnutt, 1901

  34. Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice. We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problemas are most complex and, too often, silently borne.
    --Alice Childress, 1984

  35. Pride, like humility, is destroyed by one's insistence that he possess it.
    --Kenneth B. Clarke, 1974

  36. You're either part of the solution or part of the problem.
    --Eldridge Cleaver, 1968

  37. History could pass for a scarlet text, its jot and title graven red in human blood.
    --Eldridge Cleaver, 1968

  38. Respect commands itself and can neither be given nor withheld when it is due.
    --Eldridge Cleaver, 1968

  39. You don't have to teach people how to be human. You have to teach them how to stop being inhuman.
    --Eldridge Cleaver, 1970

  40. When you educate a man you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.
    --Johnetta B. Cole, 1993

  41. I'm a musician at heart, I know I'm not really a singer. I couldn't compete with real singers. But I sing because the public buys it..
    --Nat King Cole (Nathaniel Adams Coles), 1949

  42. Critics don't buy records. They get 'em free.
    --Nat King Cole

  43. I think I was first awakened to musical exploration by Dizzy Gillespie and Bird. It was through their work that I began to learn about musical structures and the more theoretical aspects of music.
    --John Coltrane, 1960

  44. Anger and humor are like the left and right arm. They complement each other. Anger empowers the poor to declare their uncompromising opposition to opression, and humor prevents them from being consumed by their fury.
    --James Cone, 1991

  45. Testimony is an integral part of the Black religious tradition. It is the occasion where the believer stands before the community of faith in order to give account of the hope that is in him or her.
    --James Cone, 1993

  46. Truth knows no color; it appeals to intelligence.
    --James Cone, 1986

  47. One needs occasionally to stand aside from the hum and rush of human interests and passions to hear the voices of God.
    --Anna Julia Cooper, 1892

  48. The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class--it is the cause of human kind, the very birthright of humanity.
    --Anna Julia Cooper, 1892

  49. Bullies are always cowards at heart and may be credited with a pretty safe instinct in scenting their prey.
    --Anna Julia Cooper, 1892

  50. A word to the wise ain't necessary--it's the stupid ones who need advice.
    --Bill Cosby, Fat Albert's Survival Kit,1975

  51. I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
    --Bill Cosby, 1977

  52. When you become senile, you won't know it.
    --Bill Cosby, 1987

  53. There is hope for the future because God has a sense of humor and we are funny to God.
    --Bill Cosby, 1978

  54. Poets have said that the reason to have children is to give yourself immortality. Immortality? Now that I have five children, my only hope is that they are all out of the house before I die.
    --Bill Cosby, Fatherhood 1986

  55. Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.
    --Bill Cosby, 1986

  56. The truth is that parents are not really interrested in justice. They just want quiet.
    --Bill Cosby, 1986

  57. Like everyone else who makes the mistake of getting older, I begin each day with coffee and obituaries.
    --Bill Cosby, Time Flies 1987

  58. The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now.
    --Bill Cosby, 1987

  59. Let us now set forth one of the fundamental truths about marriage: the wife is in charge.
    --Bill Cosby, Love and Marriage 1989

  60. Men and women belong to different species and communications between them is still in its infancy.
    --Bill Cosby, 1989

  61. The heart of marriage is memories; and if the two of you happen to have the same ones and can savor your reruns, then your marriage is a gift from the gods.
    --Bill Cosby, 1989

  62. I am certainly not an authority on love because there are no authorities on love, just those who've had luck with it and those who haven't.
    --Bill Cosby, 1989

  63. My childhood should have taught me lessons for my own fatherhood, but it didn't because parenting can only be learned by people who have no children.
    --Bill Cosby, Childhood 1991

  64. Civilization had too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them.
    --Bill Cosby, 1991

  65. The essence of childhood, of course, is play, which my friends and I did endlessly on streets that we reluctantly shared with traffic.
    --Bill Cosby, 1991

  66. Children today know more about sex than I or my father did.
    --Bill Cosby, 1991

  67. Train your head and hands to do, your head and heart to dare.
    --Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr, 1898

  68. Let stern lessons of yesterdays be your food, your drink, your rest.
    --Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr, 1912<

  69. My poetry, I think, has become the way of my giving out what music is within me.
    --Countee Cullen, 1925



- D -
  1. Revolution is a serious thing, the most serious thing about a revolutionary's life. When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime.
    --Angela Davis, 1974

  2. Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo--obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.
    --Angela Davis, 1974

  3. For me, music and life are all about style.
    --Miles Davis, 1989

  4. It's always been a gift with me, hearing music the way I do. I don't know where it comes from, it's just there and I don't question it.
    --Miles Davis, 1989

  5. Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change--it can not only move us, it makes us move.
    --Ossie Davis, 1974

  6. College ain't so much where you been as how you talk when you get back.
    --Ossie Davis


  7. Struggle is strengthening. Battling with evil gives us the power to battle evil even more.
    --Ossie Davis


  8. I find, in being black, a thing of beauty: a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness.
    --Ossie Davis


  9. Fame comes with its own standard. A guy who twitches his lips is just another guy with a lip twitch--unless he's Humphrey Bogart.
    --Sammy Davis, Jr., Yes I Can, 1965

  10. Being a star has made it possible for me to get insulted in places where the average Negro could never hope to go and get insulted.
    --Sammy Davis, Jr., Yes I Can, 1965

  11. Every people should be originators of their own destiny.
    --Martin Delany, 1852

  12. A serpent is a serpent, and none the less a viper, because it is nestled in the bosom of an honest-hearted man.
    --Martin Delany, 1852

  13. Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.
    --Sarah Louise Delany, 1993

  14. In our dreams we are always young.
    --Sarah Louise Delany, 1993

  15. When you get real old, honey, you realizre there are certain things that just don't matter anymore. You lay it all on the table. There's a saying: Oly little children and old folks tell the truth.
    --Sarah Louise Delany, 1993

  16. It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
    --Frederick Douglass, 1852

  17. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
    --Frederick Douglass, 1857

  18. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
    --Frederick Douglass, 1857

  19. When men sow the wind it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind.
    --Frederick Douglass, 1892

  20. A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.
    --Frederick Douglass, 1894

  21. All of us have moments in our childhood where we come alive for the first time. And we go back to those moments and think, This is when I became myself.
      -- Rita Dove


  22. All the moments that make up a human being have to be written about, talked about, painted, danced, in order to really talk about life.
      -- Rita Dove


  23. Have you ever heard a good joke? If you've ever heard someone just right, with the right pacing, then you're already on the way to poetry. It's about using words in very precise ways and using gesture.
      -- Rita Dove


  24. I didn't know writers could be real live people, because I never knew any writers.
      -- Rita Dove


  25. I had been taught by my parents and grandparents to pay my dues.
      -- Rita Dove


  26. I had heard of Shakespeare, sure, but I didn't know the relative value of Shakespeare, of Emily Dickinson, or all these people that I was reading.
      -- Rita Dove


  27. I thought, after winning the Pulitzer, at least nothing will surprise me quite that much in my life. And another one happened. It was quite amazing.   -- Rita Dove


  28. My father is a chemist, my mother was a homemaker. My parents instilled in us the feeling that learning was the most exciting thing that could happen to you, and it never ends.
      -- Rita Dove


  29. Libraries are where it all begins.
      -- Rita Dove


  30. Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.
      -- Rita Dove


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


  32. When we are touched by something it's as if we're being brushed by an angel's wings.
      -- Rita Dove


  33. Without imagination we can go nowhere. And imagination is not restricted to the arts. Every scientist I have met who has been a success has had to imagine.
      -- Rita Dove


  34. There is in this world no such force as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained.
    --W.E.B. Du Bois


  35. One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer. We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.
    --W.E.B. Du Bois


  36. A classic is a book that doesn't have to be written again.
    --W.E.B. Du Bois


  37. I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
    When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
    When he beats his bars and he would be free;
    It is not a carol of joy or glee,
    But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core.
    --Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sympathy

  38. A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
    A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
    A pint of joy to a peck of troubles
    And never a laugh but the moans come double;
    And that is life.
    --Paul Laurence Dunbar, Life



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