It's discouraging to make a mistake, but it's humiliating when you find out you're so unimportant that nobody noticed it.Chuck Daly
- She stood at the gate, waiting; behind her the swamp, in front of her Colored Town, beyond it, all Maxwell. Tall and slim and white in the dusk, the girl stood there, hands on the picket gate.
- Strange Fruit (1944) First lines
- Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college.
- Faith and doubt both are needed— not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve.
- For men tied fast to the absolute, bled of their differences, drained of their dreams by authoritarian leeches until nothing but pulp is left, become a massive, sick Thing whose sheer weight is used ruthlessly by ambitious men. Here is the real enemy of the people: our own selves dehumanized into "the masses." And where is the David who can slay this giant?
- From the day I was born, I began to learn my lessons. I learned it is possible to be a Christian and a white southerner simultaneously; to be a gentlewoman and an arrogant callous creature in the same moment; to pray at night and ride a Jim Crow car the next morning and to feel comfortable doing both. I learned to believe in freedom, to glow when the word democracy was used, and to practice slavery from morning to night.
- Man, born of woman, has found it a hard thing to forgive her for giving him birth. The patriarchal protest against the ancient matriarch has borne strange fruit through the years.
- No journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
- Rich folks always talk hard times.
- Segregation is evil; there is no pattern of life which can dehumanize men as can the way of segregation.
- Segregation is spiritual lynching.
- The human heart dares not stay away too long from that which hurt it most. There is a return journey to anguish that few of us are released from making.
- The lack of belief is a defect that ought to be concealed when it cannot be overcome.
- The warped, distorted frame we have put around every Negro child from birth is around every white child also. Each is on a different side of the frame but each is pinioned there. And what cruelly shapes and cripples the personality of one is as cruelly shaping and crippling the personality of the other.
- To be seventy years old is like climbing the Alps. You reach a snow-crowned summit, and see behind you the deep valley stretching miles and miles away, and before you other summits higher and whiter, which you may have strength to climb, or may not. Then you sit down and meditate and wonder which it will be.
- To believe in something not yet proved and to underwrite it with our lives: it is the only way we can leave the future open. Man, surrounded by facts, permitting himself no surmise, no intuitive flash, no great hypothesis, no risk, is in a locked cell. Ignorance cannot seal the mind and imagination more surely.
- To find the point where hypothesis and fact meet; the delicate equilibrium between dream and reality; the place where fantasy and earthly things are metamorphosed into a work of art; the hour when faith in the future becomes knowledge of the past; to lay down one's power for others in need; to shake off the old ordeal and get ready for the new; to question, knowing that never can the full answer be found; to accept uncertainties quietly, even our incomplete knowledge of God; this is what man's journey is about, I think.
- We need not feel ashamed of flirting with the zodiac. The zodiac is well worth flirting with.
- When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die.