W. E. B. Du Bois
Quotations


The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the shadowy and of the Egypt the Sphinx. Throughout history, the powers of single blacks flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.

Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different? Outside of cannibalism, which can be matched in this country, at least, by lynching, there is no vice and no degradation in native African customs which can begin to touch the horrors thrust upon them by white masters. Drunkenness, terrible diseases, immorality, all these things have been gifts of European civilization.

An American, a Negro . . . two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

We black men seem the sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in a dusty desert of dollars and smartness.

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.

The music of an unhappy people, of the children of disappointment; they tell of death and suffering and unvoiced longing toward a truer world, of misty wanderings and hidden ways.

There are certain books in the world which every searcher for truth must know: the Bible, the Critique of Pure Reason, the Origin of Species, and Karl Marx's Capital.

Histories of the world omitted China; if a Chinaman invented compass or movable type or gunpowder we promptly "forgot it" and named their European inventors. In short, we regarded China as a sort of different and quite inconsequential planet.

If there is anybody in this land who thoroughly believes that the meek shall inherit the earth they have not often let their presence be known.

To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.

Today I see more clearly than yesterday that back of the problem of race and color, lies a greater problem which both obscures and implements it: and that is the fact that so many civilized persons are willing to live in comfort even if the price of this is poverty, ignorance and disease of the majority of their fellowmen; that to maintain this privilege men have waged war until today war tends to become universal and continuous, and the excuse for this war continues largely to be color and race.

The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line--the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War.

A classic is a book that doesn't have to be written again.

A little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills.

Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life.

But what of black women? I most sincerely doubt if any other race of women could have brought its fineness up through so devilish a fire.

Education is that whole system of human training within and without the school house walls, which molds and develops men.

One ever feels his twoness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.

The power of the ballot we need in sheer defense, else what shall save us from a second slavery?

To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is to play with mighty fires.

When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings.

The music of an unhappy people, of the children of disappointment; they tell of death and suffering and unvoiced longing toward a truer world, of misty wanderings and hidden ways.

Histories of the world omitted China; if a Chinaman invented compass or movable type or gunpowder we promptly "forgot it" and named their European inventors. In short, we regarded China as a sort of different and quite inconsequential planet.

No people can more exactly interpret the inmost meaning of the present situation in Ireland than the American Negro. The scheme is simple. You knock a man down and then have him arrested for assault. You kill a man and then hang the corpse.



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