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“And don’t call me a racist!” A treasury of quotes on the past, present, and future of the color line in America, Selected and arranged by Ella Mazel

Not in MY name! – A collection of quotes on the past, present, and future on the practice of torture, Selected and arranged by Ella Mazel

 

If there is no struggle there is no progress.
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
They want rain without thunder and lightning.
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.

Frederick Douglass, letter to abolitionist associate, 1853

 

Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands;
we have no right to assume otherwise.
If we do not falter in our duty now,
we may be able, handful that we are,
to end the racial nightmare,
and achieve our country,
and change the history of the world.

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, NY: Dial Press, 1963


O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

from “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes

 

“The Hottest places in HELL are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

Dante Alighieri

 

“Children
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 unshaking need for an unshakable God.”

Maya Angelou from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, ch. 4 (1969).

 

“Our flag is red, white and blue,
but our nation is a rainbow-
red, yellow, brown, black and white-
and we’re all precious in God’s sight.”

Jesse Jackson

 

“When I look back now from the high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.”

“Black Elk Speaks” by John G. Neihardt, University of Nebraska Press

 

“To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required, not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address, 20 Jan. 1961, Washington, D.C.

 

“You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?'”

George Bernard Shaw – The Serpent, in Back to Methuselah

 

“Anti-Semitism is a horrible disease from which nobody is immune, and it has a kind of evil fascination that makes an enlightened person draw near the source of infection, supposedly in a scientific spirit, but really to sniff the vapors and dally with the possibility.”

Mary McCarthy “Settling the Colonel’s Hash” (1961; first published 1954)

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

 

“As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”

Harper Lee, Atticus Finch to his son Jem, in To Kill a Mockingbird, (1960)

 

“Only when lions have historians will hunters cease being heroes.”

African Proverb

 

 

“I am fifty-two years of age. I am a bishop in the Anglican Church, and a few people might be constrained to say that I was reasonably responsible. In the land of my birth I cannot vote, whereas a young person of eighteen can vote. And why? Because he or she possesses that wonderful biological attribute-a white skin.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu Quoted in: Guardian Weekly (London, 8 April 1984)

 

“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”

Toni Morrison

 

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

John F. Kennedy

 

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

(unknown)

 

Instructions for Life in the New Year from the Dalai Lama:
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, respect for others and responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

 

“I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger.”

Muhammad Ali, 1967, refusing to fight in Vietnam

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech , 12.10.64

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”

“I said to my children, “I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.”
1.7.68

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”
“Letter From Birmingham Jail “, 4.16.63

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“The Trumpet of Conscience”, 1967

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution “, 3.31.68

“Whatever career you may choose for yourself — doctor, lawyer, teacher — let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life. It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man . Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
4.18.59

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided man.”
“Strength to Love”, 1963

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
“The Trumpet of Conscience”, 1967

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” quoting Martin Luther

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” “Letter From Birmingham Jail “, 4.16.63

“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
6.23.63

“If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.”
“Justice Without Violence”, 4.3.57

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”
Wall Street Journal, 11.13.62

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
“Strength to Love”, 1963

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
“Strength to Love”, 1963

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'”
“I’ve Been to the Mountain Top “, 4.3.68

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“Strength to Love”, 1963

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”
“Strength to Love”, 1963

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
“Letter From Birmingham Jail “, 4.16.63

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
Why We Can’t Wait, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963)

 

 

“I think you should defend to the death their right to march, and then go down and meet them with baseball bats.”

Woody Allen, on the Ku Klux Klan

 

“If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. If, however, my theory is proven false, France will call me a German, and Germany will call me a Jew.”

Albert Einstein

From Racism Quotes

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
Bertrand Russell

“This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour in which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.”
Gloria Steinem

“In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”
Harry A. Blackmun

“If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues, and civic causes, your children won’t either. And if parents snicker at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out.”
Marian Wright Edelman

“I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I am where I am because of the bridges that I crossed. Sojourner Truth was a bridge. Harriet Tubman was a bridge. Ida B. Wells was a bridge. Madame C. J. Walker was a bridge. Fannie Lou Hamer was a bridge.”
Oprah Winfrey

“But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?”
Robert F. Kennedy

“In world history, those who have helped to build the same culture are not necessarily of one race, and those of the same race have not all participated in one culture.”
Ruth Fulton Benedict

 

“If we do nothing to improve our world, then we cannot call ourselves educated women.”

Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, former President of Spelman College, current President of Bennett Women’s College

 

“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line — the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War. “

W. E. B. Du Bois

 

“What I did not yet know so intensely was the hatred of the white American for the black, a hatred so deep that I wonder if every white man in this country, when he plants a tree, doesn’t see Negroes hanging from its branches. “

Jean Genet

 

“Racism as a form of skin worship, and as a sickness and a pathological anxiety for America, is so great, until the poor whites — rather than fighting for jobs or education — fight to remain pink and fight to remain white. And therefore they cannot see an alliance with people that they feel to be inherently inferior.”

Jesse Jackson

 

“Racism is when you have laws set up, systematically put in a way to keep people from advancing, to stop the advancement of a people. Black people have never had the power to enforce racism, and so this is something that white America is going to have to work out themselves. If they decide they want to stop it, curtail it, or to do the right thing… then it will be done, but not until then.”

Spike Lee

 

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained… now everywhere is war.”

Bob Marley

 

“A child born to a Black mother in a state like Mississippi has exactly the same rights as a white baby born to the wealthiest person in the United States. It’s not true, but I challenge anyone to say it is not a goal worth working for.”

Thurgood Marshall

 

“I do not think white America is committed to granting equality to the American Negro… this is a passionately racist country; it will continue to be so in the foreseeable future.”

Susan Sontag

 

“I am obliged to confess that I do not regard the abolition of slavery as a means of warding off the struggle of the two races in the Southern states. The Negroes may long remain slaves without complaining; but if they are once raised to the level of freemen, they will soon revolt at being deprived of almost all their civil rights; and as they cannot become the equals of the whites, they will speedily show themselves as enemies.”

Alexis De Tocqueville

“The American ideal of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American ideal of masculinity. This idea has created cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, punks and studs, tough guys and softies, butch and faggot, black and white. It is an ideal so paralytically infantile that it is virtually forbidden — as an unpatriotic act — that the American boy evolve into the complexity of manhood.”

James Baldwin

 

“Back in the days when men were hunters and chest beaters and women spent their whole lives worrying about pregnancy or dying in childbirth, they often had to be taken against their will. Men complained that women were cold, unresponsive, frigid. They wanted their women wanton. They wanted their women wild. Now women were finally learning to be wanton and wild — and what happened? The men wilted.”

Erica Jong

 

“If there is anybody in this land who thoroughly believes that the meek shall inherit the earth they have not often let their presence be known.”

William E. B. Du Bois

 

“Housework is a breeze. Cooking is a pleasant diversion. Putting up a retaining wall is a lark. But teaching is like climbing a mountain.”

Fawn M. Brodie

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”

Confucius

 

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”

Dalai Lama

 

“Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.”

Gail Godwin

 

“I swear… to hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture.”

Hippocrates

 

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

Carl Jung

 

“A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron. “

Horace Mann

 

“What office is there which involves more responsibility, which requires more qualifications, and which ought, therefore, to be more honorable, than that of teaching?”

Harriet Martineau

 

“The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon.”

Maria Montessori

 

“When teaching, light a fire, don’t fill a bucket.”

Dan Snow

 

“To be good is noble, but to teach others how to be good is nobler and less trouble.”

Mark Twain

 

“A gifted teacher is as rare as a gifted doctor, and makes far less money.”

Source Unknown

 

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

William A. Ward

 

“America is not another word for Opportunity for all her sons.”

W.E.B. Du Bois

 

“Some claim that protecting Americans from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation would be extending ‘special rights’ to gay people.  Ironically, this same language was used as far back as 1882 – to oppose civil rights for former slaves.  Civil rights are not ‘special rights’, but basic rights that belong to all people.”

Coretta Scott King, Fellowship, Nov 1995

 

A Season for Nonviolence – 64 Ways in 64 Days Daily Commitments to Live By
These principles for nonviolence were adapted by the Denver Area Task  Force for: A Season for Nonviolence – January 30-April 4, 1998
Inspired by the 50th & 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi  and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1 — Today, I will reflect on what peace means to me.
2 — Today, I will look at opportunities to be a peacemaker.
3 — Today, I will practice nonviolence and respect for Mother Earth by making good use of her resources.
4 — Today, I will take time to admire and appreciate nature.
5 — Today, I will plant seeds–plants or constructive ideas.
6 — Today, I will hold a vision of plenty for all the world’s hungry and be open to guidance as to how I can help alleviate some of that hunger.
7 — Today, I will acknowledge every human being’s fundamental right to justice, equity, and equality.
8 — Today, I will appreciate the earth’s bounty and all of those who work to make my food available (i.e., grower, trucker, grocery clerk, cook, waitress, etc.)
9 — Today, I will work to understand and respect another culture.
10 — Today, I will oppose injustice, not people.
11 — Today, I will look beyond stereotypes and prejudices.
12 — Today, I will choose to be aware of what I talk about and I will refuse to gossip.
13 — Today, I will live in the present moment and release the past.
14 — Today, I will silently acknowledge all the leaders throughout the world.
15 — Today, I will speak with kindness, respect, and patience to every person that I talk with on the telephone.
16 — Today, I will affirm my value and worth with positive “self talk” and refuse to put myself down.
17 — Today, I will tell the truth and speak honestly from the heart.
18 — Today, I will cause a ripple effect of good by an act of kindness toward another.
19 — Today, I will choose to use my talents to serve others by volunteering a portion of my time.
20 — Today, I will say a blessing for greater understanding whenever I see evidence of crime, vandalism, or graffiti.
21 — Today, I will say “No” to ideas or actions that violate me or others.
22 — Today, I will turn off anything that portrays or supports violence whether on television, in the movies, or on the Internet.
23 — Today, I will greet this day–everyone and everything–with openness and acceptance as if I were encountering them for the first time.
24 — Today, I will drive with tolerance and patience.
25 — Today, I will constructively channel my anger, frustration, or jealousy into healthy physical activities (i.e., doing sit-ups, picking up trash, taking a walk, etc).
26 — Today, I will take time to appreciate the people who provide me with challenges in my life, especially those who make me angry or frustrated.
27 — Today, I will talk less and listen more.
28 — Today, I will notice the peacefulness in the world around me.
29 — Today, I will recognize that my actions directly affect others.
30 — Today, I will take time to tell a family member or friend how much they mean to me.
31 — Today, I will acknowledge and thank someone for acting kindly.
32 — Today, I will send a kind, anonymous message to someone.
33 — Today, I will identify something special in everyone I meet.
34 — Today, I will discuss ideas about nonviolence with a friend to gain new perspectives.
35 — Today, I will practice praise rather than criticism.
36 — Today, I will strive to learn from my mistakes.
37 — Today, I will tell at least one person they are special and important.
38 — Today, I will hold children tenderly in thought and/or action.
39 — Today, I will listen without defending and speak without judgment.
40 — Today, I will help someone in trouble.
41 — Today, I will listen with an open heart to at least one person.
42 — Today, I will treat the elderly I encounter with respect and dignity.
43 — Today, I will treat the children I encounter with respect and care, knowing that I serve as a model to them.
44 — Today, I will see my so-workers in a new light–with understanding and compassion.
45 — Today, I will be open to other ways of thinking and acting that are different from my own.
46 — Today, I will think of at least three alternate ways I can handle a situation when confronted with conflict.
47 — Today, I will work to help others resolve differences.
48 — Today, I will express my feeling honestly and nonviolently with respect for myself and others.
49 — Today, I will sit down with my family for one meal.
50 — Today, I will set an example of a peacemaker by promoting nonviolent responses.
51 — Today, I will use no violent language.
52 — Today, I will pause for reflection.
53 — Today, I will hold no one hostage to the past, seeing each-as I see myself-as a work in process.
54 — Today, I will make a conscious effort to smile at someone whom I have held a grudge against in the past.
55 — Today, I will practice compassion and forgiveness by apologizing to someone whom I have hurt in the past.
56 — Today, I will reflect on whom I need to forgive and take at least one step in that direction.
57 — Today, I will forgive myself.
58 — Today, I will embrace the spiritual belief of my heart in my own personal and reflective way.
59 — Today, I will enlarge my capacity to embrace differences and appreciate the value of every human being.
60 — Today, I will be compassionate in my thoughts, words, and actions.
61 — Today, I will cultivate my moral strength and courage through education and creative nonviolent action.
62 — Today, I will practice compassion and forgiveness for myself and others.
63 — Today, I will use my talents to serve others as well as myself.
64 — Today, I will serve humanity by dedicating myself to a vision greater than myself.

 

Two Pots
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.

“I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.” The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. To all of my crackpot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers.