On themselves and their Beliefs

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of these idolized African-Americans? Read their expressive quotes below.

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

All the people who want to be anti-West, they always take Qaddafi's side, as though they wouldn't mind being on one of those planes when it's blown up.
Stanley Crouch, Stanley Crouch Interview

Can I smoke now without someone taking my picture?
Hank Aaron

Don't think that because you haven't heard from me for a while that I went to sleep. I am still here, like a spirit roaming the night. Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest.
Spike Lee

Everyone who was involved thought that some space was needed after all the negative things that were said. R Kelly is a wonderful producer and a wonderful artist. He's all good, but that time was very tense, so it's not really appropriate for us to see each other.
Aaliyah, MusicGala.com

First in myth, later in reality, passion and violence watered my root soil.
Roy Wilkins

Frequently producers have partners that they never let the public know about.
Katherine Dunham, Katherine Dunham Interview

I almost wish I could be more exciting, that I could match what is happening out there to me.
Whitney Houston

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Fannie Lou Hamer

I believe we are still so innocent. The species are still so innocent that a person who is apt to be murdered believes that the murderer, just before he puts the final wrench on his throat, will have enough compassion to give him one sweet cup of water.
Maya Angelou

I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads.
Zora Neale Hurston

I didn't want to pay my fare and then go around the back door, because many times, even if you did that, you might not get on the bus at all.
Rosa Parks

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

I don't know if I even have an aura, man. I just try to win.
Tiger Woods

I feel guilty just sitting around when I know I can be doing something.
Michael Jackson

I get from the soil and spirit of Texas the feeling that I, as an individual, can accomplish whatever I want to, and that there are no limits, that you can just keep going, just keep soaring. I like that spirit.
Barbara Jordan

I got a simple rule about everybody. If you don't treat me right shame on you!
Louis Armstrong

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

I have a lot of things to prove to myself. One is that I can live my life fearlessly.
Oprah Winfrey

I have been the artist with the longest career, and I am so proud and honored to be chosen from heaven to be invincible.
Michael Jackson

I have loved my work, I have loved people and my play, but always I have been uplifted by the thought that what I have done well will live long and justify my life, that what I have done ill or never finished can now be handed on to others for endless days to be finished, perhaps better than I could have done.
W.E.B. Dubois

I haven't been with a woman in nine months.
Mike Tyson, Mike Tyson Interview

I hear that melting-pot stuff a lot, and all I can say is that we haven't melted.
Jesse Jackson

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

I liked college guys but they could tell I was just a skinny girl.
Tyra Banks

I live a day at a time. Each day I look for a kernel of excitement. In the morning I say: "What is my exciting thing for today?" Then, I do the day. Don't ask me about tomorrow.
Barbara Jordan

I met Robert before he came out with Born in the 90's . He came to my house and I sang for him, and from there we went into the studio and started working together.
Aaliyah, VIBE Magazine, 1995

I never had a chance to play with dolls like other kids. I started working when I was six years old.
Billie Holiday

I never intended to become a run-of-the-mill person.
Barbara Jordan

I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.
Harriet Tubman

I never stop to plan. I take things step by step.
Mary McLeod Bethune

I spent a lot of time with a crown on my head.
Halle Berry

I was a veteran, before I was a teenager.
Michael Jackson

I was learning the importance of names -- having them, making them -- but at the same time I sensed the dangers. Recognition was followed by oblivion, a yawning maw whose victims disappeared without a trace.
Josephine Baker

I was thrilled that my mother is still alive and can share this with me. And I can claim representation in so many areas. I'm a Midwesterner, and everyone in Ohio is excited. I'm also a New Yorker, and a New Jerseyan, and an American, plus I'm an African-American, and a woman. I know it seems like I'm spreading like algae when I put it this way, but I'd like to think of the prize being distributed to these regions and nations and races.
Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture

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

I'm a controversial figure. My friends either dislike me or hate me.
Toni Morrison

I'm always making a comeback but nobody ever tells me where I've been.
Billie Holiday

I'm easy to look at, but so hard to see.
Oprah Winfrey

I'm just like anyone. I cut and I bleed. And I embarrass easily.
Michael Jackson

I'm the man you think you are.... If you want to know what I'll do, figure out what you'll do. I'll do the same thing--only more of it.
Malcolm X

I've always been mysterious. There are times when I don't understand myself...I think I'm a bit of a vampire in real life, and there are times when I just want to be myself.

If I have anything special that makes me "influential" I simply don't know how to define it. If I knew the ingredients I would bottle them, package them and sell them, because I want everyone to be able to work together in a spirit of cooperation and compromise and accommodation without, you know, any caving in or anyone being woefully violated personally or in terms of his principles.
Barbara Jordan

It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made and demand and I just didn't feel like obeying his demand . . I was quite tired after spending a full day working.
Rosa Park

Me and Janet really are two different people.
Michael Jackson

Most of the time I played by myself. Even then I was a loner, and I have stayed a loner all my life. [It] can make a man seem a little distant or aloof -- but it has helped pull me through some tight spots and hard times.
Roy Wilkins

Most of us who aspire to be tops in our fields don't really consider the amount of work required to stay tops.
Althea Gibson

My biggest weakness is my sensitivity. I am too sensitive a person.
Mike Tyson

My eyes and my mind keep taking me where my old legs can't keep up.
Zora Neale Hurston

Shaking hands with the Queen of England was a long way from being forced to sit in the colored section of the bus going into downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.
Althea Gibson

That video was definitely over the line.
MC Hammer

The only tired I was, was tired of giving in. (on refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white male).
Rosa Parks Interview

Use what you have to run toward your best - that's how I now live my life.
Oprah Winfrey, Magazine

Well, I think that the image is a part of me. I wear the baggy pants, the hats, the whole nine. And you know, I may add a little for the excitement and the intrigue in the videos, but my family has told me that little air of mystery that surrounds me is for real.

When I say I love Eastland, it sounds preposterous--a man who brutalizes people. But you love him or you wouldn't be here. You're going to Mississippi to create social change--and you love Eastland in your desire to create conditions which will redeem his children. Loving your enemy is manifest in putting your arms not around the man but around the social situation, to take power from those who misuse it--at which point they can become human too.
Bayard Rustin

When I was in prison, I was wrapped up in all those deep books. That Tolstoy crap - people shouldn't read that stuff.
Mike Tyson

Why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone.
Michael Jackson

You see that honky McNamara on television? He ain't nothing but a racist. He says, "Yes, we are going to draft thirty percent of the Negroes in the Army. This is where they can have equal opportunity. Yeah. Yes? yes it's true that they are only ten percent of the population, but this is a better chance for them." When that honky talk about drafting thirty percent black people, he's talking about black urban removal?nothing else.
Stokely Carmichael