" Our nettlesome task is to discover how to organize our strength into compelling power."
"If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well."
"If a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live"
"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
"Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them."
"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan."
"It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important."
"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 at the ocean at a span,
I must be measured by my soulThe mind is the standard of the man"