“Over and over, I have echoed the words of the Apostle Paul (Romans 7:21): ‘I desire to do what is right, but wrong is all that I can manage.’ The most persistent struggles of my life have always centered on the gray areas of compromise. It may be that a man cannot live in a situation or society of which he cannot approve, or to which he cannot consent without compromise. After all, this is the issue upon which the survival of the weak turns when the fight is for survival itself.”
Source: With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman Harcourt Brace & Co., 1979 pages 249-250
“We are calling on land grant colleges to extend their borders as we have never called on them before, not only to help the immediate students that go to their schools but to reach out in the community miles around for students to come in. Give students an opportunity. Build tents for these boys to study so they can come in Whatever is done now, get these young people prepared with their hands to learn these technical things that they must have to carry on now. I would advise that you bestir yourselves and do everything you possibly can to bring that into action. The masses are depending upon the colleges and leaders.”
Source: Excerpt from an address by Mary McLeod Bethune before the NYA Regional Conference on the College Work Program for Negroes in 1940.
Mary McLeod Bethune: Building a Better World Essays and Selected Documents Edited by Audrey Thomas McCluskey and Elaine M. Smith Indiana University Press, 1999 pages 225-226
“If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.”
Deion Sanders, Major League Baseball and National Football League superstar, sports broadcaster and Florida native.
The ‘So-What?! Significance: This is certainly not the day to doubt yourself. America was founded on a hardcore belief — a dream that became a world superpower. What worked for a nation started with a dream among individuals.
“When all else fails, trust God.”
Florida native and NBA champion David Robinson
“The Marines don’t have any race problems. They treat everybody like they’re black.”
— Florida native and the first U.S. Air Force four-star general Daniel “Chappie” James Jr.
“I know you cannot all remember my name, but you will remember this face, remember this crown of white hair, remember the yearnings of a heart that is pleading for the unity of the world, that all of us may brothers be.”
Source: Mary McLeod Bethune: Building a Better World Edited by Audrey Thomas McCluskey and Elaine M. Smith; Indiana University Press, 1999 p. 57; and; “Address to a World Assembly for Moral Re-Aarmanent” July 27, 1964 Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation, Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, Fla.
The ‘So-What?!’ Significance: Given her contributions, from serving as a key advisor to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to the generations of black graduates from Bethune-Cookman University, we shouldn’t forget Mary McLeod Bethune.
“You are young, gifted and Black. We must begin to tell our young. There’s a world waiting for you. Yours is the quest that’s just begun.”
James Weldon Johnson, author, civil rights, activist, composer, diplomat, educator and Florida native.
The ‘So-What?!’ Significance: The words resonate. They did when James Weldon Johnson first uttered them. They did when Nina Simone and poet Weldon Irvine recorded those same words in the late 1960s in the hit song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” and the words should still have meaning today.
“Negroes must be free in order to be equal, and they must be equal in order to be free… Men cannot win freedom unless they win equality. They cannot win equality unless they win freedom.”
A. Phillip Randolph, civil rights activist, labor union leader and Florida native.
The ‘So-What?!’ Significance: Today, black people are “free,” but are they seen as equals in the eyes of American society? Looks like it’s still a work in progress.
“We are African in origin and American in birth.”
T. Thomas Fortune, journalist, civil rights activist, orator and Florida native.
The ‘So-What?!’ Significance: It’s a profound statement that resonates today.
“Nobody dislikes war more than warriors.”
— Florida native and the first African American to reach a Four-Star General rank in U.S. Air Force Daniel “Chappie” James Jr.