The naked female body is treated so weirdly in society. It's like people are constantly begging to see it, but once they do, someone's a hoe.
It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it. Carry it by the comfortable handles of gratitude for what's positive and that it is not worse, rather than the uncomfortable edges of bitterness for the negatives and that it is not better.
Nobody black or white who really believes in democracy can stand aside now; everybody's got to stand up and be counted.
I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.
You have to be taught to be second class; you're not born that way.
Don't be afraid to feel as angry or as loving as you can, because when you feel nothing, it's just death.
You wouldn't be allowed to get on a particular bus, but you'd be asked to sign your autograph.
A little nepotism never hurt nobody, honey. If you got it, use it. Press on with it. Remind them of it.
My identity is very clear to me now, I am a black woman.
The best thing about living... Is the chance to keep on doing it!
You have to be taught to be second class; you're not born that way. But the slanting process is so subtle that you frequently don't realize how you're being slanted until very late in the game.
I'm me, and I'm like nobody else.
Always be smarter than the people who hire you.
Malcolm X made me very strong at a time I needed to understand what I was angry about. He had peace in his heart. He exerted a big influence on me.
I found out along the way that they like you a little imperfect.
music became my refuge and then my salvation.
I'm still learning, you know. At 80, I feel there is a lot I don't know.
I want to sing like Aretha Franklin. Before her I wanted the technical ability of Ella Fitzgerald.
I don't have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I'd become. I'm me, and I'm like nobody else.
I'm not alone, I'm free. I no longer have to be a credit, I don't have to be a symbol to anybody; I don't have to be a first to anybody.
Every color I can think of and nationality, we were all touched by Dr. King because he made us like each other and respect each other.
I learned from Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, Adelaide Hall, the Nicholas Brothers, the whole thing, the whole schmear. [The Cotton Club] was a great place because it hired us, for one thing, at a time when it was really rough [for Black performers].
It's so nice to get flowers while you can still smell the fragrance.
It's ill-becoming for an old broad to sing about how bad she wants it. But occasionally we do.
I remember the day tDr. King died. I wasn't angry at the beginning. It was like something very personal in my life had been touched and finished.
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