Pessimists are the people who have no hope for themselves or for others. Pessimists are also people who think the human race is beneath their notice, that they're better than other human beings.
The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.
The reason people think it's important to be white is that they think it's important not to be black.
The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.
The South is very beautiful but its beauty makes one sad because the lives that people live here, and have lived here, are so ugly.
Words like freedom, justice, democracy are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.
Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.
It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.
To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.
Europe has what we do not have yet, a sense of the mysterious and inexorable limits of life, a sense, in a word, of tragedy. And we have what they sorely need: a sense of life's possibilities.
Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn't have it and thought of other things if you did.
Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.
I have never seen myself as a spokesman. I am a witness. In the church in which I was raised you were supposed to bear witness to the truth. Now, later on, you wonder what in the world the truth is, but you do know what a lie is.
It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.