Words of Wisdom

Browse through these compelling words of wisdom made by remarkable African-American men and women.

A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.
Pearl Bailey

A man can't ride your back unless it's bent.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.
Malcolm X

A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

A right delayed is a right denied.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

All of us are made up of the stories that we listen to, the ones we disagree with and the ones that we agree with.
Stanley Crouch, Stanley Crouch Interview

Be careful what you swallow. Chew!
Gwendolyn Brooks

Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind - listen to the birds. And don't hate nobody.
Eubie Blake

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
Malcolm X

Don't be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn't do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn't know what you know today.
Malcolm X

Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.
Satchel Paige

Don't think you are going to go on forever because you are not and begin to plan something that will compensate as you reduce your capacities to leap or turn on this or that or the other, begin thinking of something else.
Katherine Dunham, Katherine Dunham Interview

Don't want to be near you for the thoughts we share but the words we never have to speak.
Nikki Giovanni

Each one should remember there is a chance for him.
Booker T. Washington

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
Martin Luther King, Jr., The Measure of a Man

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

Give light and people will find the way.
Ella Baker

Hard-working people, and poor, most of them, in worldly goods--but how rich in compassion! How filled with the goodness of humanity and the spiritual steel forged by centuries of oppression! There was the honest joy of laughter in these homes, folk-wit and story, hearty appetites for life as for the nourishing greens and black-eyed peas and cornmeal bread they shared with me. Here in this little hemmed-in world where home must be theatre and concert hall and social center, there was a warmth of song. Songs of love and longing, songs of trials and triumphs, deep-flowing rivers and rollicking brooks, hymn-song and ragtime ballad, gospels and blues, and the healing comfort to be found in the illimitable sorrow of the spirituals.
Paul Robeson

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Human beings cannot be willed and molded into non-existence.
Angela Davis

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you're going to get in the ring and try to take the belt, you have to prepare to get hit.
Stanley Crouch, Stanley Crouch Interview

If you're going to play the game properly, you'd better know every rule.
Barbara Jordan

In order to be profoundly dishonest, a person must have one of two qualities: either he is unscrupulously ambitious, or he is unswervingly egocentric.
Maya Angelou

Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough.
Mary McLeod Bethune

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

Let it be your constant method to look into the design of people's actions, and see what they would be at, as often as it is practicable; and to make this custom the more significant, practice it first upon yourself.
Marcus Garvey

Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.
Richard Wright

Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences.
Marcus Garvey, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey

Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love

No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you.
Zora Neale Hurston

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

One chance is all you need.
Jesse Owens

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not.
Dorothy Draper, Good Housekeeping

Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.
Maya Angelou

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter From Birmingham City Jail

Some people are your relatives but others are your ancestors, and you choose the ones you want to have as ancestors. You create yourself out of those values.
Ralph Ellison

Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough.
Billie Holiday

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Arthur Ashe

The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself; but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you even into eternity.
Marcus Garvey, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey

The lives of most men are patchwork quilts. Or at best one matching outfit with a closet and laundry bag full of incongruous accumulations. A lifetime of training for just ten seconds.
Jesse Owens

The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.
Audre Lorde

The point is, you have an ethnic heritage and you have a human heritage. Your human heritage includes everything of human value.
Stanley Crouch

The soul that is within me no man can degrade.
Frederick Douglass

The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts.
Booker T. Washington

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
Zora Neale Hurston

There is a higher law than the law of government. That's the law of conscience.
Stokely Carmichael

There is nothing in the world common to man, that man cannot do.
Marcus Garvey, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey

There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in the how.
Toni Morrison

Those that set in motion the forces of evil cannot always control them afterwards.
Charles W. Chesnutt

What you do to-day that is worthwhile, inspires others to act at some future time.
Marcus Garvey, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey

You can have it all. You just can't have it all at once.
Oprah Winfrey

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