The Quote Garden

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 Est. 1998

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Quotations for Kwanzaa

Umoja (Unity)

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main... ~John Donne

In unity there is strength. ~Aesop, "The Bundle of Sticks"

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. ~African proverb

Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Daystar of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. ~Bahá’u’lláh, "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," translated by Shoghi Effendi,

The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. ~James Baldwin, "Nothing Personal," 1964

In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress. ~Booker T. Washington, 1895

You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart known as Brotherhood, however much you preach, posture, or agree, unless you live it. ~Faith Baldwin, "Living Brotherhood"

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Every man is the architect of his own fortune. ~Appius Claudius Cæcus

I am,
a king,
because I know how
to rule myself.
~Pietro Aretino, 1537

Strength will lead your way and Determination will keep you going! ~Flitz, @Flitzy245

You can find inspiration from others but determination is solely your responsibility. ~Dodinsky

Never give up trying, wherever you may be, and whatever may be the threatening ills which rise against you. What if gods and men and the whole world oppose you? There is always some place where the soul can be itself. There is no defeat except from within... There is no power either in heaven or earth that can successfully oppose the onward course of the perfectly determined soul. ~Robert Burns Wilson, 1887

Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people succeed because they are determined to. ~Author unknown, 1960s

"I must do something" always solves more problems than "Something must be done." ~Author unknown

Ujima & Ujamaa
(Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics)

Cooperation is... a thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there. And that "there" is nowhere but "here"… in the full, rich living of the present moment as an individual, as a couple, a family, a society, a world. ~Virginia Burden, The Process of Intuition, 1957

We don't accomplish anything in this world alone… and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something. ~Sandra Day O'Connor, as quoted on the Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law website,

We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes... ~Anne C. Weisberg and Carol A. Buckler

We allow no man to shelter himself under the plea of insignificance. We deny that a man can be insignificant... There is not one of you whose actions do not operate on the actions of others... Ye live not for yourselves; ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibres connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibres, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects. ~Henry Melvill, "Partaking in Other Men's Sins," 1855

Service to others is the rent we pay for our room on Earth. ~Philip Byard "Tubby" Clayton, c.1915

One is a member of a country, a profession, a civilization, a religion. One is not just a man. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In about the same degree as you are helpful you will be happy. ~Karl Reiland, "The Fashion of a Man," The World's Miracle, 1929

A man is called selfish, not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbours'. ~Richard Whately

Independence? That's middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth. ~Bernard Shaw

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatsoever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die; for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold of for the moment; and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. ~Bernard Shaw

Each of us is a being in himself and a being in society, each of us needs to understand himself and understand others, take care of others and be taken care of himself. ~Haniel Long

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

We do not inherit the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children. ~David R. Brower (1912–2000),,

Many hands make light work. ~Proverb

Nia (Purpose)

...if you have a purpose in which you can believe, there's no end to the amount of things you can accomplish. ~Marian Anderson

The purpose of life is a life of purpose. ~Robert Byrne, The Third — and Possibly the Best — 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1986

Men, like nails, lose their usefulness when they lose their direction and begin to bend... ~Walter Savage Landor

If you don't decide what your life is about, it defaults to what you spend your days doing. ~Robert Brault,

Kuumba (Creativity)

Hope, not fear, is the creative principle in human affairs... Those who are taught in this spirit will be filled with life and hope and joy, able to bear their part in bringing to mankind a future less somber than the past, with faith in the glory that human effort can create. ~Bertrand Russell, 1917

Man is the most alive of living things. In him the traits which distinguish the animate from the inanimate become most pronounced. This is particularly true of his creativeness, which is essentially life giving. It introduces order into the randomness of nature... and is actuated not only by the present environment but by memories and goals. ~Eric Hoffer

The most real thing is one's own soul. That may be set down as an axiom; and being true, the real business of life is to keep one's soul in the state of harmony, of love, of joy, in which along is the condition of creative activity. As the most real thing is the soul, so the most unreal thing is any quality opposed to spiritual states, — as envy, hatred, or despair. The circumstances or events that throw us into any of these conditions render us negative to true advancement. And so, measuring life by the ideal, one has no moral right to let himself be so disappointed or depressed or disturbed as to be in any wise turned aside from his real business, — the right living. ~Lilian Whiting, 1896

How weak we are when we are selfish. How strong when we are loving... We give from the finite, but we receive from the Infinite. Love is creative. It is continually producing, unfolding, enlarging, sweeping into new forms of beauty and power. ~Putnam, as quoted in The Christian Pioneer, 1874

Imani (Faith)

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together... ~Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

Faith is the bird that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark.
~Rabindranath Tagore

Faith is like radar which sees through the fog — the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see. ~Corrie ten Boom

Let us be like that unafraid bird
Lighted upon a twig that swings
Feeling it yield but singing on—
For knowing that he has wings!
~Victor Hugo

[Martin Luther King, Jr.] introduced me to the idea of taking one step, even if you can't see the whole stairway when you start. ~Marian Wright Edelman, 1986  []

If you cain't bear no crosses, you cain't wear no crown. ~African-American saying


If there is no struggle, there is no progress. ~Frederick Douglass

The African race is a rubber ball. The harder you dash it to the ground, the higher it will rise. ~African proverb

Out from the rut, and on to the foothills, up toward the mountain; out from defeat, out from disaster; out, out, out!... Rise, rise from the ashes, rise from the ruins, rise from chaos, rise from the wreck... Are your eyes upon the mountain, and have you a purpose? Well, then, prepare for a struggle, for the heights do not give up their secrets easily. ~Charles F. Raymond, "Excelsior!," Just Be Glad, 1907

Perseverance is everything. ~Yoruba proverb

This is the lesson:  never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. ~Winston Churchill, 1941

Every day you either see a scar or courage. Where you dwell will define your struggle. ~Dodinsky

A struggle to do something more than exist is the sign of human life — the mission of the human soul. ~Walter Moxon

The Land, Crops, & Hope for the Future

To plant a seed and see it grow
Is something every child should do,
And when it blossoms, how it grew
Is something every child should know,
And when its seeds are ripe to sow,
A child may see the old made new.
To grow and gently grow and grow
Is something people should do too.
~Harry Behn, "Lesson," c.1953

...a universe as this, full of all the essential means of happiness... the sun shining, the flowers blooming, the crops growing, the waters running... ~Walt Whitman

He came to his fields. He stopped in front of them. He bent down, picked up a handful of that rich earth full of air and seeds. It was an earth full of good will. ~Jean Giono (1895–1970), translated from the French by Henri Fluchè and Geoffrey Myers

Corn is a necessary, silver is only a superfluity. ~Adam Smith

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. ~Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1940

We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves. ~Langston Hughes

Africa & People of African Descent

For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place. ~Maya Angelou, “‘For Years, We Hated Ourselves,’” in The New York Times, 1972  [article on Eliot Elisofon’s “Black American Heritage” —tg]

...the drums of Africa still beat in my heart. ~Mary McLeod Bethune

I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
~Maya Angelou, "Still I Rise," 1978

The story of African Americans is a story of resilience and perseverance. ~Barack Obama, Proclamation — National African American History Month, 2012

We need to haunt the halls of history and listen anew to the ancestors' wisdom. ~Maya Angelou, "I Dare To Hope," 1991


As a candle cannot burn without fire, so man cannot live without spiritual force. ~Ramakrishna

How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
~William Shakespeare

Now, near the Winter Solstice, it is good to light candles. All the nice meanings of bringing light to the world can be beautiful. ~Ralph Levy, "Hanukkah – Another View,"

A candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise or stir at all,
But softly gives itself away,
While, quite unselfish, it grows small...

There are two ways of spreading light; to be
The candle or the mirror that reflects it.
~Edith Wharton

Homemade Gifts

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ~Kahlil Gibran

Not that which we give, but what we share,—
For the gift without the giver is bare...
~James Russell Lowell, 1848

The only gift is a portion of thyself.... the poet brings his poem... the farmer, corn... the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing. This is right and pleasing, for it restores society in so far to its primary basis, when a man's biography is conveyed in his gift... But it is a cold, lifeless business, when you go to the shops to buy me something which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith's. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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published 2003 Jul 23
revised 2021 Aug 13
last saved 2022 Aug 17