Last modified on 8 December 2014, at 19:20

Black people

Prominent Black People. Clockwise from top left: abolitionist Frederick Douglass, activists Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King, Jr., and scientist George Washington Carver.

Black People are people of relatively recent African descent (see African diaspora), while others extend the term to any of the populations characterized by dark skin color, a definition that also includes certain populations in Oceania and Southwest Asia.

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  • One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
  • I have a dream: That one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" β€” one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
  • 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 β€” 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.
  • Living with the conditions of slavery and then, later, segregation, the Negroes lost faith in themselves. Many came to feel that perhaps they were inferior. But then something happened to the Negro. Circumstances made it possible and necessary for him to travel more. The coming of the automobile, the upheavals of two world wars, the Great Depression. And so his rural plantation background gradually gave way to urban industrial life. His economic life was gradually rising through the growth of industry, the influence of organized labor, expanded educational opportunities; and even his cultural life was rising through the steady decline of crippling illiteracy. All of these forces conjoined to cause the Negro to take a new look at himself.
    Negro masses all over began to reevaluate themselves. The Negro came to feel that he was somebody. His religion revealed to him that God loves all of his children and that all men are made in his image. That the basic thing about a man is not his specificity but his fundamental; not the texture of his hair or the color of his skin, but his eternal dignity and worth. So the Negro can now unconsciously cry out with the eloquent poet: "fleecy locks and black complexion cannot forfeit nature's claim; skin may differ but affection dwells in black and white the same. Were I so tall as to reach the pole or to grasp the ocean and the sand. I must be measured by my soul; the mind is a standard of the man." With this new sense of dignity, this new sense of self respect, a new Negro came into being with a new determination to suffer and struggle and sacrifice in order to be free. So in a real sense we have come a long, long way since 1619.
  • We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.
    • Malcolm X Interview (January 1965?); quoted in By Any Means Necessary
  • "I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me".
  • The only people who accept slavery are the Negroes, owing to their low degree of humanity and proximity to the animal stage. Other persons who accept the status of slave do so as a means of attaining high rank, or power, or wealth, as is the case with the Mameluke Turks in the East and with those Franks and Galicians who enter the service of the state [in Spain].
    • Ibn Khaldun as quoted in Bernard Lewis, Race and Color in Islam, Harper and Row, 1970, quote on page 38. The brackets are displayed by Lewis.
  • "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others. . . . One ever feels his twoness,β€”an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warrings ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."
  • "History has thrown the colored man out. You look in vain to Bancroft and other historians for justice to the colored. The historian passes it by"
    • William Wells Brown in an address at the American Anti-Slavery Society in May 1860, New York. Anti-Slavery Standard, May 26, 1860
  • ...Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated, how many white families have lived in stark poverty, how many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we have wasted our energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?
    • U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Special Message to the Congress: The American Promise, March 15, 1965
  • The history books, which had almost completely ignored the contribution of the Negro in American history, only served to intensify the Negroes' sense of worthlessness and to augment the anachronistic doctrine of white supremacy. All too many Negroes and whites are unaware of the fact that the first American to shed blood in the revolution which freed this country from Birtish oppression was a black seaman named Crispus Attucks. Negroes and whites are almost totally oblivious of the fact that it was a Negro physician, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first successful operation on the heart in America. Another Negro physician, Dr. Charles Drew, was largely responsible for developing the method of separating blood plasma and storing it on a large scale, a process that saved thousands of lives in World War II and has made possible many of the important advances in powstwar medicine. History books have virtually overlooked the many Negro scientists and inventors who have enriched American life. Although a few refer to George Washington Carver, whose research in agricultural products helped to revive the economy of the South when the throne of King Cotton began to totter, they ignore the contribution of Norbert Rillieuz, whose invention of an evaporating pan revolutionized the process of sugar refining. How many people know that multimillio-dollar United Shoe Machinery Company developed from the shoe-lasting machine invented in the last century by a Negro from Dutch Guiana, Jan Matzelinger; or that Granville T. Woods, an expert in electric motors, whose many patents speeded the growth and improvement of the railroads at the beginning of this century, was a Negro?
    Even the Negroes' contribution to the music of America is sometimes overlooked in astonishing ways. In 1965 my oldest son and daughter entered an integrated school in Atlanta. A few months later my wife and I were invited to attend a program entitled "Music that has made America great." As the evening unfolded, we listened to the folk songs and melodis of the various immigrant groups. We were certain that the program would end with the most original of all American music, the Negro spiritual. But we were mistaken. Instead, all the students, including our children, ended the program by singing "Dixie".
    • Martin Luther King Jr., as quoted in Carson, Clayborne. 2001. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Grand Central Publishing. Cap: Black Power.
  • In the struggle for human rights and justice, Negros will make a mistake if they become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns.
    • Martin Luther King Jr., Speech delivered in Finney Chapel at Oberlin College (7 February 1957), as reported in "When MLK came to Oberlin" by Cindy Leise (The Chronicle-Telegram; January 21, 2008)
  • The non-violent Negro is seeking to create the beloved community. He directs his attack on the forces of evil rather than on individuals. The tensions are not between the races, but between the forces of justice and injustice; between the forces of light and darkness.
    • Speech delivered in Finney Chapel at Oberlin College (February 7, 1957), as reported in "When MLK came to Oberlin" by Cindy Leise (The Chronicle-Telegram; January 21, 2008)

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