We often look back at the past with not-so-fond memories—especially during the Civil Rights era when so many people were fighting for their basic human rights to freedom. Black activists, writers, poets, and civilians banned together for the freedoms the Black community practices today. But are they truly free? That’s a question for another day. Today, let’s reflect on writers that impacted the Civil Rights era and their thoughts, opinions, and hard truth through quotes. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have been born. And that’s a hard truth.
The affects of racism in America linger in our veins.
Being a Black American now may not be as hard as it was then, but similar issues have arisen in recent times.
To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”James Baldwin
We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line.”Langston Hughes
Our grandfathers had to run, run, run. My generation’s out of breath. We ain’t running no more.”Stokely Carmichael
I also know that while I am black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me.”Stokely Carmichael
It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.”Stokely Carmichael
Art can uplift us.
All forms of art have the power to uplift voices. To protest, argue, and convey whatever message we may want is what creative expression is all about.
I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.”Richard Wright
Art hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home.”Gwendolyn Brooks
An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”Langston Hughes
To my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering ‘I want to be white,’ hidden in the aspirations of his people, to ‘Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro – and beautiful!'”Langston Hughes
These ring true even today.
Some simple truths are easier to swallow than others.
One of the great needs of Negro children is to have books about themselves and their lives that can help them be proud.”Langston Hughes
My Alma mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”
I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.”Anti-War Conference, Los Angeles, California, February 26, 1967. Martin Luther King Jr.
I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people.”Stokely Carmichael
In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no ‘two evils’ exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”“Why I Won’t Vote,” The Nation, W.E.B. DuBois
Advice that guides you places.
Take these words and run with them.
I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.”Malcolm X
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr.
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”Maya Angelou
Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”Maya Angelou
Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.”“Niagara Movement Speech,” W.E.B. DuBois
For more insightful quotes, click here.