I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books.
The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.
But what did it mean to find me, a slave, dreaming about those books?
Abraham Lincoln is singular. Abraham Lincoln, before he was killed, stood up and, you know, for the first time from any sitting president, stood for the right for suffrage for African-American men who had served in the Civil War. And that's a limited suffrage, but it was quite radical at the time.
Abraham Lincoln was killed by the forces of white supremacy.
If I could have anything - you know, and this is across the board for any presidential candidate - I would have a greater acknowledgment of history in our policy and in our affairs.
When people hear the term 'political prisoner,' especially on the Left, it becomes a kind of abstraction. Folks are aware of injustice, and they're aware that there are folks in prison who are in prison, you know, largely because of their activism.
There are plenty of African-Americans in this country - and I would say this goes right up to the White House - who are not by any means poor, but are very much afflicted by white supremacy.
You can't make a direct comparison between middle-class African Americans and middle-class white Americans, affluent African Americans and affluent white Americans. The amount of wealth tends to be less.
African Americans are one of the oldest ethnic groups in this country. We been here since the beginning. Before the beginning.
Many, many people of the Revolutionary generation, the generation that fought in the Revolutionary War, understood that slavery was somehow in contradiction to what America was saying it was. And many of those folks also, at the very least, gave land to African Americans when they were liberated.
Barack Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012 were dismissed by some of his critics as merely symbolic for African Americans. But there is nothing 'mere' about symbols.
It is said that Obama speaks 'professorially,' a fact that understates the quickness and agility of his mind.
I feel some need to represent where I'm from. But ultimately, I think my only real responsibility is to - as much as possible - interrogate my own truths. This is to say not merely writing what I think is true, but using the writing to turn that alleged truth over and over, to stress-test it, in the aim of producing something readable.
Obama's presence opened a new field for writers, and what began as curiosity about the man himself eventually expanded into curiosity about the community he had so consciously made his home and all the old, fitfully slumbering questions he'd awakened about American identity.
To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.
If, to the end of its existence, America harbors white supremacy, I don't know how remarkable that would be. France has dealt with anti-Semitism since its inception.
From last century's 'The Birth of a Nation' to this century's 'Gods and Generals,' Hollywood has likely done more than any other American institution to obstruct a truthful apprehension of the Civil War and, thus, modern America's very origins.
I don't completely understand why people in Aspen want to hear what I have to say.