Black Classic Voices

Bethune, Mary McLeod

Mary McLeod Bethune's Legacy

Mary McLeod Bethune's Legacy

My Last Will and Testament

If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is
my philosophy of living and serving.

Here, Then, is My Legacy...

  • I leave you love.
      Love builds. It is positive and helpful.

  • I leave you hope.
      Yesterday, our ancestors endured the degradation of slavery, yet they
      retained their dignity.

  • I leave you the challenge of developing
    confidence in one another.
      This kind of confidence will aid the economic rise of the race by
      bringing together the pennies and dollars of our people and ploughing them into useful

  • I leave you thirst for education.
      Knowledge is the prime need of the hour.

  • I leave you a respect for the uses of power.
      Power,intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom.

  • I leave you faith.
      Faith in God is the greatest power, but great, too, is faith in oneself.

  • I leave you racial dignity.
      I want Negroes to maintain their human dignity at all costs.

  • I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man.

  • I leave you, finally, a responsibility to our young people.
      The world around us really belongs to youth; for youth will take over its
      future management.

    Mary McLeod Bethune

Douglass, Frederick

Meaning of the 4th of July to

Frederick Douglass of July 4th to the Enslaved

Frederick Douglass on the Meaning of the 4th of July to
the Enslaved

In 1852, Frederick Douglass was invited to speak at an Independence Day
rally wherein he said:

"Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to
speak here today? What have I, or those I represent , to do with your national
independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural
justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And I,
therefore called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and
to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings
resulting from your independence to us? …

"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day
that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice
and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a
sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness,
swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your
denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and
equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and
thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are to him, mere
bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up
crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the
earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the
United States, at this very hour.

"Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the
monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search
out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of
the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that for
revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without rival."

No Progress Without Struggle!

No Progress Without Struggle! -

No Progress Without Struggle!

by Frederick Douglass

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms.

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions,
yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The
conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being
putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor
freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing
up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the
ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be
both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing
without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people
will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong
which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed
by the endurance of those whom they oppress.


Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they
get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us,
we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by
sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.


From an address on West India Emancipation, August 4, 1857.

DuBois, W. E. B

On Double Consciousness

On Double Consciousness -

On Double Consciousness

by W. E. B. DuBois

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton
and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted
with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true
self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the
other world. 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. One
ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts,
two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged
strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing
to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and
truer self. ...


Excerpted from the chapter "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" in his book The
Souls of Black Folk.

The Immortal Child

The Immortal Child - Title

The Immortal Child

by W. E. B. DuBois

If a man dies shall he live again? We do not Know. But this we do
know, that our children's children live forever and grow and develop toward
perfection as they are trained. All human problems, then, center in the
Immortal Child and his education is the problem of problems.


In the treatment of the child the world foreshadows its own future and faith.
All words and all thinking lead to the child,--to that vast immortality and
wide sweep of infinite possibility which the child represents.


Remember, too, that ... the ... child-mind has what your tired soul may have
lost faith in,--the Power and the Glory.

Out of little, unspoiled souls rise up wonderful resources and healing

--a power and impulse toward good which is the mightiest thing man has...

a great, moving, guiding ideal!

With this Power there comes, in the transfiguring soul of childhood, the Glory:
the vision of accomplishment, the lofty ideal. Once let the strength of the
motive work, and it becomes the life task of the parent to guide and to shape
the ideal; to raise it from resentment and revenge to dignity and self-respect,
to breadth and accomplishment, to human service; to beat back every thought of
cringing and surrender.

Here, at last, we can speak with no hesitation, with no lack of faith. For we
know that as the world grows better there will be realized in our children's
lives that for which we fight unfalteringly, but vainly now.


Excerpted from the chapter "The Immortal Child" in his book,

Egyptian Mysteries

The Life of Virtue as Required by the Egyptian Mysteries


The Life of Virtue as Required by the Egyptian Mysteries

The Life of Virtue as Required by the Egyptian Mysteries

In the Egyptian Mysteries the Neophyte was required to manifest the
following attributes:

  1. Control of thought

  2. Control of action, or Justice (i.e., the unswerving righteousness
    of thought and action).

  3. Steadfastness of purpose, or Fortitude.

  4. Identity with spiritual life, or higher ideals (i.e., Temperance
    which is an attribute attained when the individual had gained conquest over the
    passionate nature).

  5. Evidence of having a mission in life, and

  6. Evidence of a call to spiritual Orders of the Priesthood in the Mysteries;
    the combination of which was equivalent to Prudence or a deep insight
    and graveness that befitted the faculty of seership.

  7. Freedom from resentment, when under the experience of persecution and
    wrong. This was known as courage.

  8. Confidence in the power of the master as teacher, and

  9. Confidence in one's own ability to learn; both attributes being known as

  10. Readiness or preparedness for initiation.

There has always been this principle of the Ancient Egyptian Mysteries of


Reference: Stolen Legacy by George G. M. James (pp. 30–31)

NOTE: The words in Bold Italics are “The
Four Cardinal Virtues” of Plato (who studied thirteen years in Egypt).

Garvey, Marcus

Maxims of Marcus Garvey

Maxims of Marcus Garvey

Hansberry, Lorraine

To Be Young Gifted and Black

To Be Young Gifted and Black -

Hughes, Langston

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

by Langston Hughes

One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, "I
want to be a poet—not a Negro poet, "meaning , I believe, "I want
to write like a white poet;" meaning subconsciously, "I would like to
be write like a white poet;" meaning behind that, "I would like to be
white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has
ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted that, with his desire to run
away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this
is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America—this
urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality
into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much
American as possible.


An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also
never be afraid to do what he might chose.


We younger Negro artist who create now intend to express our individual
dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are
glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly
too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased
we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either . We
build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of
the mountain, free within ourselves.

Malcolm X

Robeson, Paul

Tubman, Harriet

Walker, David

Woodson, Carter G.