There are so many things that make February a wonderful month. January is over, so we can all give up on our New Year's resolutions (well, we tried). Valentine's Day is coming up, which means that we can all look forward to discounted chocolate on February 15. And, most importantly, it's Black History Month, so we can celebrate some of our favorite authors in style.
Now, obviously, we should be reading our favorite black authors year-round. Every month is a good month to pick up Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon or Issa Rae's The Misadventure of Awkward Black Girl. And everyone, everywhere, should check out Octavia Butler's letter to herself if you ever need an extra dose of dream-following inspiration.
But since lack of diversity in the publishing world is still a huge issue, it's well worth it to have a full month to just focus on black authors. Seriously, nearly 90 percent of the books reviewed by The New York Times in 2011 were written by white authors. That's plenty of exposure. All those books about white boys and their dogs will still be there in March.
So what better way to celebrate black authors than hearing from the authors themselves? These quotes are from the writers behind some of the greatest fiction, nonfiction, plays, poetry, and everything else in between:
1. People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou, Worth Repeating: More Than 5,000 Classic and Contemporary Quotes (2003) by Bob Kelly
2. Well, writing was what I wanted to do, it was always what I wanted to do. I had novels to write so I wrote them.
— Octavia E. Butler, Interviewing the Oracle : Octavia Butler by Kazembe Balagun
3. I needed to see more from my movies than the extremely tragic black woman, or the magic helpless Negro, or the many black men in dresses.
— Issa Rae, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
4. The impossible is the least that one can demand.
— James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
5. Make up a story... For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul.
— Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993
6. And I knew that it was better to live out one's absurdity than to die for that of others.
— Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
7. Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.
— Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels to Be Colored Me
8. The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.
— Zadie Smith, Fail Better
9. You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.
— Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
10. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story
11. I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way... I can't apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to...
— Alice Walker, The Color Purple
12. One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers.
— Gwendolyn Brooks, In the Mecca
13. Books are often far more than just books.
— Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist
14. Life don't owe you nothing. You owe it to yourself.
— August Wilson, Fences
15. Life's too short to spend time trying to explain the obvious to an idiot.
— Gloria Naylor, Bailey's Cafe