The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone.
It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story.
You don't realize that you're intelligent until it gets you into trouble.
All over Harlem, Negro boys and girls are growing into stunted maturity, trying desperately to find a place to stand; and the wonder is not that so many are ruined but that so many survive.
Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent.
Confronted with the impossibility of remaining faithful to one's beliefs, and the equal impossibility of becoming free of them, one can be driven to the most inhuman excesses.
To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.
The face of a lover is an unknown, precisely because it is invested with so much of oneself. It is a mystery, containing, like all mysteries, the possibility of torment.
Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.
Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it.