New Bartlett’s Compiles Black Quotations

Hillel Italie, CNS News, November 15, 2013

For the debut Bartlett’s anthology of black quotations, editor Retha Powers wanted to capture the personal, the political and the artistic.


“Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations,” which has just been published, has the most comprehensive of subtitles: “5,000 Years of Literature, Lyrics, Poems, Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs from Voices Around the World.” It reaches back to ancient times and oral cultures and continues right up to rap, Malcolm Gladwell and President Barack Obama.

In a foreword for the new book, the author and critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. notes that compilations of black quotations date back to the 19th century and that the “field has proliferated with a marvelous array of titles.” But, he adds, none of the reference works compares with “the scope of Retha Powers’ collection.”

The 764-page book includes lyrics by Robert Johnson, Smokey Robinson and Jay Z; the humor of Richard Pryor, Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy; the oratory of the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson; and prose and poetry from Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. Gates himself gets a few citations.


Obama’s section covers 10 pages and features excerpts from his memoir “Dreams from My Father”; his campaign slogan “Yes, we can!”; his celebrated keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention; and highlights from his two inaugural addresses. Powers includes problematic moments, too, whether the “God damn America” sermon by Obama’s longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Obama’s observation during a fundraiser speech that some people struggling economically “cling to guns or religion.”


The new Bartlett’s compiles statesmen (Nelson Mandela) and tyrants (Idi Amin), radicals (Malcolm X) and conservatives (Clarence Thomas), scholars (John Hope Franklin) and slaves (Nat Turner). There are boasts (Muhammad Ali’s catchphrase “I am the greatest”), protests (Tracy Chapman: “Why are the missiles called peacekeepers?”), jokes (Dave Chappelle: “Every black is bilingual. We speak street vernacular and job interview”) and pleas (Rodney King: “Can we all get along?”).


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  • “Black quotations”

    “I is what I is” — Black Jesus

    “Gibs me dat sail foam” — A random black armed robber

    • Erasmus

      “Hey, ni**ah, what’s shaking?”- to be heard any time of day in the ghetto

      “Dat kid ain’t mine, bitch!” – dittoes

      • Garrett Brown

        You made my day with this.

    • Lewis33

      “The dash don’t be silent!”–ghetto queen

      • tlk244182

        Translation please? (Im serious)

        • Jesse_from_Sweden

          A joke on stupid names. And should supposedly be true.

          A black kid comes in and her mother writes down her name as “La-a”.

          So how do you pronounce it?
          Apparently the answer is “ladasha”, – because the dash don’t be silent.

      • Katherine McChesney

        La-a’s name.

    • Erasmus

      Don’t forget: “Nome sane?”

      • tlk244182

        Can you translate for me? Im perfectly serious.

        • Skip Wellington

          “Nome sane” ≈ “Do you know what I am saying?”

          [my ethnic studies degrees qualify me to act as an urban translator]

          • tlk244182


        • Brian

          There are names like ‘L-a’ or ‘N-a’, pronounced like luh-dash-ay.

          • tlk244182

            .Got it. Thanks. When I was younger and lived in NYC my ear was pretty good. But now I’m rusty. Thanks again.

          • Blue-eyed Devil

            You’re a racist.

          • Brian

            Thanks for noticing!

        • bilderbuster

          Nome sane? = Do you know what I’m saying?

          • tlk244182

            Thanks for the help.

          • bilderbuster

            You’re welcome.
            Ebonics can be difficult to translate as it’s not a written language.

    • bilderbuster

      Da sail foam numba be fo fi fi – fi fi fo fi.

  • Andy

    What black quotations have been preserved from 3000 BC?

    • Erasmus


      • M.

        It’s better with the the face.

    • Puggg

      “Ook ook eek eek,” maybe?

    • Tim_in_Indiana

      “Oooga booga!”

    • Rhialto

      Those White devils have stolen our formulae for intergalactic space craft, time travel and immortality.

      • Blue-eyed Devil

        I resemble that remark.

    • Non Humans

      Ah Din Do Nuffins.

      Hims was a Goot Boy.

      WaChoo Mean, Black Plague!?

  • JackKrak

    Some jokes just write themselves.

    You can’t put together a collection of notable “quotes” from blacks without extensive contributions from rap “artists”, criminals, Motown, foul-mouthed comedians, more criminals and athletes.

    • So CAL Snowman

      “I got ninety nine problems but a bit*h ain’t one”
      – Jay Z

      • sbuffalonative

        He even appeared on Oprah promoting that song and album.

  • Bunky

    “Hey nigga” I imagine would be the first entry.

  • gregCall

    It would take much more than ten pages just to cover Obozo’s gaffes.

    • bilderbuster

      His speech writers had to write his gaffes.

    • Blue-eyed Devil

      I think Barack once stated that there were 57 states.

  • Truthseeker

    I doubt this book has an Elizabeth Wright section, but it would be awesome if it did.

  • dd121

    I had no idea they were such men of Letters.

    • IstvanIN

      Yes, and here they are: E B T

      • So CAL Snowman

        also B E T

        we keep it nice and simple for them

        • IstvanIN

          The entire African alphabet except for “click”.

  • Whitetrashgang

    Hope those crackers pick me for the slave ship these Naggers are stupid and dangerous.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    There’s no doubt that Bartlett’s has long been dominated by politics. When asked why the book had only a few quotations by Reagan, who was known as “The Great Communicator” (back when Reagan was president), the editor said words to the effect of: “There’s no doubt that I despise the man.”

    Yet we on the right are not supposed to say we despise anybody on the left. After all, that would be “hateful!” Is it okay to say you “despise” Obama? I don’t think so.

    • Erasmus

      Let’s not forget: “If I had a son, he would look a lot like Trayvon Martin.”

  • bigone4u

    Since blacks don’t read books, the only purchasers of this comedic fiasco will be public libraries and schools. In the library, the book will gather dust. In the schools, it will be passed around like a gold t*rd to build the self esteem of illiterate, low IQ ghetto lobsters.

    • Whitetrashgang

      The funny thing in a all black school, teachers and students, no one will be able to read it, just look at the pictures. Look, Look at the big words. We be balling now.

    • Rhialto

      This is exactly the situation, and publicly financed libraries and schools will be the market along with a few, more than usually deranged, Liberals. Yes, it will be a prominent dust collector.

      • bilderbuster

        A bestseller dust collector.

    • bilderbuster

      It will be required reading at mostly White schools.

    • Blue-eyed Devil

      The have magazines like Jet.

    • Katherine McChesney

      I think you must be right. I often go to a library across from the projects. They’re all lined up at computers playing card games and gambling, but in all the visits there I have never seen them browsing for books. On the other hand, the other library I go to is always filled with Whites working on projects, reading or browsing among the books and films. It’s two different worlds altogether.

  • Spartacus

    “5,000 Years of Literature, Lyrics, Poems, Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs from Voices Around the World.”


    5000 years ? Really ? You imbeciles didn’t even know of the written word until you were taught by Whites, but you had 5 millenia of poems ? God, these things are retarded…

    • Non Humans

      Pretty conniving, too. To think that anyone, outside of other nonhumans and deranged libtards, would believe that pile.

    • M.

      Maybe they were oral poems?
      Haha, I know it’s hard to believe that people who never made an axe, spear, or arrowhead worth preserving beyond the moment of its use could come up with poems. But I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

    • Erasmus

      Technically, the era before written records is prehistory, and most didn’t have a written language until 150 years ago. (Thank you, white men) So any claim for quotes going back before that is suspect.

    • Keep Honkin, I’m Reloading

      They was buildin pyramids while white folk was still in caves… ya know?

  • So CAL Snowman

    “You can keep your current health care plan”
    – Obama

    • tlk244182

      Now THAT’S funny!

      • JDInSanD

        Agreed. I come for the comments but stay for the laughs.

        And didn’t Rodney King say, “CAN’T we all get along?” Not “CAN we all get along?” Or have I had it wrong all these years?

        “Yes we can” was stolen from La Raza who were basically saying, “Yes we can take this country, yes we can disregard your laws, yes we can ignore basic civility, yes we can disrespect your culture, yes we can vote, yes we can…”

        • Blue-eyed Devil

          You hate Mexicans. Whites stole their land.

          • JDInSanD

            Check out Blue Eyed Devil’s comments. Virtually every one is like the above except he occasional changes Mexican to black or hater to racist. A totally PC programmed robot with no real argument.

    • Blue-eyed Devil

      I don’t know the first thing about Obamacare. It confuses me.

  • Brian

    Is ‘din do nuffins’ in there?

  • Skip Wellington

    I just hates me some fried chicken!

  • Anna Tree

    If we were to write similar quality of quotes ever made by whites in one book, we would need millions of pages, not 764.

  • Blue-eyed Devil

    Some blacks are very intelligent and articulate. There have been many great black authors.

  • MikeofAges

    I got a couple I like. “Oz didn’t give nothin’ to the Tin Man, that he didn’t didn’t already have.”

    The other one require a little explanation. Former NFL star Floyd Little was discussing his hopes that he would be selected for the NFL Hall of Fame while he was still alive and his fears that he would eventually suffer dementia. Something about “What makes you, you dies before you do.” That’s a hell of way to put it. And so true.

    • Katherine McChesney

      Is that America or Poco?

  • Keep Honkin, I’m Reloading

    Normally one would think there would me multiple quotes from “Dreams From My Father”… except for those were all written by Bill Ayers… a White man.

  • Keep Honkin, I’m Reloading

    “lemme hole a dollah”

  • me

    The only ‘quote’ I want to put down for posterity is the one that Obummer will never speak–“I am a communist agitator that used racism and unconstitutional Executive Orders to destroy the European American country of the United States, the country and people that I detest, at the behest of my ‘masters’.” –Just before he begs for clemency at his trial for treason.

  • me

    Old Bartlett is probably spinning in his grave at 78rpm, to know that his legacy has been used to ‘quote’ a sub-human and savage race that hate and murder his progeny.

  • Sloppo

    Here are a few interesting Obama Quotes:

    I will have the most transparent administration.

    I have Shovel ready jobs.

    The IRS is not targeting anyone.

    If I had a son, he’d look like that.

    I will put an end to the type of politics that “breeds division, conflict and cynicism”.

    You didn’t build that.

    I will restore trust in Government.

    I am not after your guns.

    The Public Will Have 5 Days To Look At Every Bill That Lands On My Desk.

    Congressional health care negotiations will be broadcast on C-Span.

    I will not hire lobbyists.

    I will end “no compete contracts” with the government.

    Unemployment will not go above 8%.

    It’s not my red line it is the world’s red line.

    Whistle blowers will be protected.

    “We got back Every Dime we Used to Rescue the Banks, with interest.

    I will close Gitmo.

    This will be a new era of bipartisanism.

    90% of the stimulus jobs will be in the private sector.

    I will cut the federal deficit in half by the end of my first term.

    I am not spying on American citizens.

    ObamaCare will be good for America.

    You can keep your family doctor.

    Premiums will be lowered by $2500.

    You can keep your current healthcare plan.

    I, Barrack Hussain Obama pledge to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

  • M.

    They’re already doing that. Didn’t you hear them going all “we beez egypchuns n sheit”?