When I'm writing, I write. And then it's as if the muse is convinced that I'm serious and says, 'Okay. Okay. I'll come.'
When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature.
When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.
There is an amazing something in the American psyche which speaks about courage, and it says, 'Yes I can,' ... Yes, we will overcome it all because we have the spirit to do so.
The plague of racism is insidious, entering into our minds as smoothly and quietly and invisibly as floating airborne microbes enter into our bodies to find lifelong purchase in our bloodstreams.
There's racism and sexism and ageism and all sorts of idiocies. But bad news is not news. We've had bad news as a species for a long time. We've had slavery and human sacrifice and the holocaust and brutalities of such measure.
It is very dangerous to make a person larger than life because, then, young men and women are tempted to believe, well, if he was that great, he's inaccessible, and I can never try to be that or emulate that or achieve that.
The breezes of the West African night were intimate and shy, licking the hair, sweeping through cotton dresses with unseemly intimacy, then disappearing into the utter blackness.
Let us live so we do not regret years of inertia and ignorance, so when we die we can say all of our energy was dedicated to the noble liberation of the human mind and spirit, beginning with my own.
You have to deal with what you encounter. But you must not be reduced. And so a way not to be reduced is don't whine! Don't let the incidents which take place in life bring you low.
All information belongs to everybody all the time. It should be available. It should be accessible to the child, to the woman, to the man, to the old person, to the semiliterate, to the presidents of universities, to everyone. It should be open.
She was white, wore perfume and smiled openly with the Negro customers, so I knew she was sophisticated. Other people's sophistication tended to make me nervous and I stayed shy of Louise.
It is important that we learn humility, which says there was someone else before me who paid for me. My responsibility is to prepare myself so that I can pay for someone else who is yet to come.
A bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true.
A bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true. A simple morning's greeting and response appear loaded with innuendo and fraught with implications. Each nicety becomes more sterile and each withdrawal more permanent.
The difference between charity and philanthropy is the distance of the soul... To be philanthropic is to give something, to be charitable is to give one's own heart.
I'm really saddened by the attempts to separate and polarize. This is a time when we have hungry people, people out of work, and people out of spirit. This is a time where we need to uplift, not to separate.
When the storyteller tells the truth, she reminds us that human beings are more alike than unalike... A story is what it's like to be a human being-to be knocked down and to miraculously arise. Each one of us has arisen, awakened. We do rise.
In a long meter hymn, a singer -- they call it 'lays out a line.' And then the whole church joins in in repeating that line. And they form a wall of harmony so tight, you can't wedge a pin between it.
Having courage does not mean we are unafraid.
Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage and showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, 'I have fallen, but I will get up.'
I am a very religious person, so it is the presence of God, the constant unwavering, unrelenting presence of God which continues to help me to keep a character which I am proud to show.
Black people rarely forgave whites for being ragged, unkempt and uncaring. There was a saying which explained the disapproval: 'You been white all your life. Ain't got no further along than this? What ails you?'
I was going to look like one of the sweet little white girls who were everybody's dream of what was right with the world.
Although there is nothing amusing about racial discrimination, the oppressed find funny things to say about it. The white folks are so prejudiced in my town, a colored person is not allowed to eat vanilla ice cream.
Hell, if you're born black in the United States, you're suspect of being everything, except white, of course.
Baby, let me tell you what's going to happen. In a few years, there are going to be beautiful posters of Malcolm X, and his photographs will be everywhere. The same people who don't give a damn now will lie and say they always supported him.
Continue to be bold, courageous. Try to choose the wisest thing and once you've chosen the wisest thing go out and try to achieve it. Be it.
I agreed a long time ago, I would not live at any cost. If I am moved or forced away from what I think is the right thing, I will not do it.
When I was asked to do something good, I often say yes, I'll try, yes, I'll do my best. And part of that is believing, if God loves me, if God made everything from leaves to seals and oak trees, then what is it I can't do?
The Holy Spirit upon my left leads my feet without ceasing into the camp of the righteous and into the tents of the free.
You can't be consistently fair, consistently generous, consistently just, or consistently merciful. You can be anything erratically, but to be that thing time after time after time, you have to have courage.
Jimmy Baldwin was a whirlwind who stirred everything and everybody. He lived at a dizzying pace and I loved spinning with him.
Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you... yet, someone survived... You can do anything you choose to do.
The first thing I do in the morning when I awaken is say, 'Thank you, Lord!' I'm grateful to be alive, and I'm going to try to tell the truth as well as I know and tell it as eloquently as I can so that people can hear it.
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.
I have need of a friend. There is one and only one who will give the air from his failing lungs for my body's mend. And that one is my love.
Every experience shapes your writing, being stuck in a car on a lonely bridge, or dancing at a prom, being the it girl on the beach, all of those things influence your life, they influence how you write, and the topics you choose to write about.
While the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of mans humanity to a man.
Sisterhood means if you happen to be in Burma and I happen to be in San Diego and I'm married to someone who is very jealous and you're married to somebody who is very possessive, if you call me in the middle of the night, I have to come.
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.
See you don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing you do it without thinking.
Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.
The heavy opulence of Dostoevsky's world was where I had lived forever. The gloomy, lightless interiors, the complex ratiocinations of the characters and their burdensome humors, were as familiar to me as loneliness.
There are those who say that poets should use her and his art to change the world. I'd agree with that, but I think everybody should do that. I think the chef and the baker and the candlestick maker -- I think everybody should be hoping to make it a better world.
Had I not had my grandmother, who dared to be my rainbow in the clouds, I would have been just another sexually abused barefoot black girl on the roads of Arkansas.
You rose into my life like a promised sunrise, brightening my days with the light in your eyes. I've never been so strong. Now I'm where I belong.
I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
It is only out of ignorance that people are cruel, because they really don't think it will come back.
Light and shadow are opposite sides of the same coin. We can illuminate our paths or darken our way. It is a matter of choice.
If God put the rainbows right in the clouds themselves, each one of us in the direst and dullest and most dreaded and dreary moments can see a possibility of hope ... Each one of us has the chance to be a rainbow in somebody's cloud.
It is sad but true that sometimes we need the tragedy to help us to see how human we are and how we are more alike than we are different.
I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
Take the blinders from your vision take the padding from your ears and confess you've heard me crying and admit you've seen my tears.
People don't always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you make them feel.
The happy heart runs with the river, floats on the air, lifts to the music, soars with the eagle, hopes with the prayer.
Happiness is a chance to talk to a friend, to hear good music, to have a good glass of wine. Happiness is a chance to be myself and to find people with whom I agree or who I don't agree but I can learn something.
I think when we don't know what to do it's wise to do nothing. Sit down quietly; quiet our hearts and minds and breathe deeply.
Laugh as often as possible. You must. Because the world will offer you every reason to weep. So as often as possible, you laugh. That, I think, is part of the Great Love.
Forgiveness. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. You are relieved of carrying that burden of resentment. You really are lighter. You feel lighter. You just drop that.
The area where we are the greatest is the area in which we inspire, encourage and connect with another human being.
When you know you are of worth, you don't have to raise your voice, you don't have to become rude, you don't have to become vulgar; you just are. And you are like the sky is, as the air is, the same way water is wet. It doesn't have to protest.
We need Joy as we need air. We need Love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share.
If you are going down a road and don't like what's in front of you, and look behind you and don't like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path!
When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.
Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it empowers us to develop courage; to trust that courage and build bridges with it; to trust those bridges and cross over them so we can attempt to reach each other.
A person is the product of their dreams. So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dream.
If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.
It is this belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable.
Strong women- precious jewels all- their humanness is evident in their accessibility. We are able to enter into the spirit of these women and rejoice in their warmth and courage.
To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision.
To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision. Few, if any, survive their teens. Most surrender to the vague but murderous pressure of adult conformity. It becomes easier to die and avoid conflict than to maintain a constant battle with the superior forces of maturity.
At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.
Ritie, don't worry 'cause you ain't pretty. Plenty pretty women I seen digging ditches or worse. You smart. I swear to God, I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind.
I dreamt we walked together along the shore. We made satisfying small talk and laughed. This morning I found sand in my shoe and a seashell in my pocket. Was I only dreaming?
Each of us, famous or infamous, is a role model for somebody, and if we aren't, we should behave as though we are -- cheerful, kind, loving, courteous. Because you can be sure someone is watching and taking deliberate and diligent notes.
Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you've got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.
Whining is not only graceless, but can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a victim is in the neighborhood.
A woman who is convinced that she deserves to accept only the best challenges herself to give the best. Then she is living phenomenally.
Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift.
Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.
Some people cannot see a good thing when it is right here, right now. Others can sense a good thing coming when it is days, months, or miles away.
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.
I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.
Most people don't grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.
What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.
I do not trust people who don't love themselves and yet tell me, 'I love you.' There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.
The human heart is so delicate and sensitive that it always needs some tangible encouragement to prevent it from faltering in its labour.
I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.
I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.
Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence neither speed up nor slow down add to nor diminish it is an imponderably valuable gift.
Now, after years of observation and enough courage to admit what I have observed, I try to plant peace if I do not want discord; to plant loyalty and honesty if I want to avoid betrayal and lies.
If you have done the best you can do and if you have gotten all you could extract from something, you have given all you had to give, then the time has come when you can do no more than say thank you and move on.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.
Don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.
You don't have to tell everything you know, but let what you do say be the truth as you understand it.