Quotations about   racism

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Negroes are not the only poor in the nation. There are nearly twice as many white poor as Negro, and therefore the struggle against poverty is not involved solely with color or racial discrimination but with elementary economic justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Speech to Shop Stewards, Local 815, Teamsters and the Allied Trades Council, New York City (2 May 1967)
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Added on 31-May-19 | Last updated 31-May-19
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“To Hell with all racialists,” she said aloud. “And to Hell with eugenics, degenerate heredity, miscegenation and frauds who pile up skulls like a conqueror as well. May they choke on their bones.”

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Ruddy Gore (1995)
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Added on 9-Aug-18 | Last updated 9-Aug-18
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It is not a threat but a fact of history that if an oppressed people’s pent-up emotions are not nonviolently released, they will be violently released. So let the Negro march. Let him make pilgrimages to city hall. Let him go on freedom rides. And above all, make an effort to understand why he must do this. For if his frustration and despair are allowed to continue piling up, millions of Negroes will seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies. And this, inevitably, would lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 13-Apr-18 | Last updated 13-Apr-18
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It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
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Compare to language he used here.
Added on 23-Feb-18 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness — justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967)
Added on 17-Nov-17 | Last updated 17-Nov-17
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We must make it clear that in our struggle to end this thing called segregation, we are not struggling for ourselves alone. We are not struggling only to free seventeen million Negroes. The festering sore of segregation debilitates the white man as well as the Negro. We are struggling to save the soul of America.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Keep Moving from This Mountain,” Spelman College (10 Apr 1960)
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Added on 3-Nov-17 | Last updated 3-Nov-17
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Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom, “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression” (1958)
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Added on 2-Sep-17 | Last updated 2-Sep-17
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Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It is beyond me.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
“How It Feels to Be Colored Me”, The World Tomorrow (May 1928)
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Added on 2-Aug-17 | Last updated 2-Aug-17
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I accept this idea of democracy. I am all for trying it out. It must be a good thing if everybody praises it like that. If our government has been willing to go to war and sacrifice billions of dollars and millions of men for the idea I think that I ought to give the thing a trial. The only thing that keeps me from pitching head long into this thing is the presence of numerous Jim Crow laws on the statute books of the nation. I am crazy about the idea of democracy. I want to see how it feels.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
“Crazy for This Democracy,” Negro Digest (Dec 1945)
Added on 12-Jul-17 | Last updated 12-Jul-17
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We must not seek to use our emerging freedom and our growing power to do the same thing to the white minority that has been done to us for so many centuries. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man. We must not become victimized with a philosophy of black supremacy. God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in freeing the whole human race.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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Added on 16-Jun-17 | Last updated 16-Jun-17
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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 (b. 1926) American writer [Nellie Harper Lee]
To Kill a Mockingbird, ch. 23 (1960)
Added on 7-Apr-17 | Last updated 7-Apr-17
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We know the redemption must come. The time and the manner of its coming we know not: It may come in peace, or it may come in blood; but whether in peace or in blood, LET IT COME.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Speech to “The colored people of Pittsburge, Pennsylvania” (1843)

Representative Dellet of Alabama quoted the speech before the House of Representatives, then asked Adams, "though it cost the blood of thousands of white men?" Adams responded, "Though it cost the blood of millions of white men, let it come. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall."
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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It is an unhappy truth that racism is a way of life for the vast majority of white Americans, spoken and unspoken, acknowledged and denied, subtle and sometimes not so subtle — the disease of racism permeates and poisons a whole body politic. And I can see nothing more urgent than for America to work passionately and unrelentingly — to get rid of the disease of racism. Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
Added on 9-Oct-16 | Last updated 9-Oct-16
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It is among the evils of slavery that it taints the very sources of moral principle. It establishes false estimates of virtue and vice: for what can be more false and heartless than this doctrine which makes the first and holiest rights of humanity to depend upon the color of the skin?

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Journal (1820)
Added on 26-Sep-16 | Last updated 26-Sep-16
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We send missionaries to China so the Chinese can get to heaven, but we won’t let them into our country.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) American writer
(Attributed)

Quoted in Clifton Fadiman, The American Treasury: 1455-1955 (1955).
Added on 25-Aug-16 | Last updated 25-Aug-16
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The oppression of women knows no ethnic nor racial boundaries, true, but that does not mean it is identical within those boundaries.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“An Open Letter to Mary Daly” (6 May 1979)
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Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions — bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.

Roosevelt - nation unity - wist_info

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, Brooklyn, New York (1 Nov 1940)
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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I believe that the United States as a government, if it is going to be true to its own founding documents, does have the job of working toward that time when there is no discrimination made on such inconsequential reason as race, color, or religion.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News conference (13 May 1959)
Added on 23-Jul-15 | Last updated 23-Jul-15
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A system cannot fail those it was never designed to protect.

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) American writer, historian, social reformer [William Edward Burghardt Du Bois]
(Attributed)
Added on 21-May-15 | Last updated 21-May-15
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Looky here, America
What you done done —
Let things drift
Until the riots come.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright
“Beaumont to Detroit: 1943”
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Added on 14-May-15 | Last updated 14-May-15
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Blood that has soaked into the sands of a beach is all of one color. America stands unique in the world: the only country not founded on race but on a way, an ideal. Not in spite of but because of our polyglot background, we have had all the strength in the world. That is the American way.

Ronald Reagan (1911-2006) US President (1981-89), politician, actor
Speech (10 Aug 1988)

On signing a bill providing restitution to Japanese-Americans who had been put in internment camps during World War II. He originally spoke the words as an Army Captain in December 1945 at a "United America Day" rally for the posthumous awarding of the Distinguished Service Cross to Sgt. Kazuo Masuda.
Added on 28-Jan-15 | Last updated 28-Jan-15
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Personally, I hate to have to think of any man as of a definite race, creed, or color; so few men are really worth knowing that it seems a shameful waste to let an anthropoid prejudice stand in the way of free association with one who is.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“The Library,” The American Mercury (May 1931)
Added on 27-Jan-15 | Last updated 27-Jan-15
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This country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free.

George Carlin (1937-2008) American comedian
What Am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988)
Added on 7-Jan-15 | Last updated 7-Jan-15
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That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright
“Justice” (1923)
Added on 16-Dec-14 | Last updated 16-Dec-14
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All of us, no matter from what land our parents came, no matter in what way we may severally worship our Creator, must stand shoulder to shoulder in a united America for the elimination of race and religious prejudice. We must stand for a reign of equal justice to both big and small.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
“Americanism,” speech to the Knights of Columbus, New York (12 Oct 1915)
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Added on 26-Nov-14 | Last updated 26-Nov-14
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America’s greatest enemy is not from without, but from within, and that enemy is hate: hatred of races, peoples, classes and religions. If America ever dies, it will be not through conquest but suicide.

Fulton Sheen (1895-1979) American Catholic archbishop, preacher, televangelist
Preface to Religion (1946)
Added on 5-Feb-14 | Last updated 5-Feb-14
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Though I’ve belted you an’ flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“Gunga Din,” st. 5 (1892)
Added on 21-Jan-13 | Last updated 23-Jul-15
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I am quite sure that (bar one) I have no race prejudice, and I think I have no color prejudices, nor caste prejudices. Indeed, I know it. I can stand any society. All I care to know is that a man is a human being — that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Concerning the Jews,” Harper’s (Sep 1899)
Added on 23-Apr-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 5-Nov-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 12-Jun-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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When religion becomes a mere artificial façade to justify a social or economic system — when religion hands over its rites and language completely to the political propagandist, and when prayer becomes the vehicle for a purely secular ideological program, then religion does tend to become an opiate. It deadens the spirit enough to permit the substitution of a superficial fiction and mythology for the truth of life. And this brings about the alienation of the believer, so that his religious zeal becomes political fanaticism. His faith in God, while preserving its traditional formulas, becomes in fact faith in his own nation, class or race. His ethic ceases to be the law of God and love, and becomes the law of might-makes-right: established privilege justifies everything. God is the status quo.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
Contemplative Prayer
Added on 7-Nov-06 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood; that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I Have a Dream,” speech, Washington, DC (28 Aug 1963)
Added on 18-Jan-05 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator (1897)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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