Bernice Johnson Reagon Quotes

I came out of the Civil Rights Movement and I had a different kind of focus than most people who have just the academic background as their primary training experience.

Personally I discovered that you could go through the academy as a young scholar come out and almost immediately have an impact on the academic environment.

Well the first time I ran into the term religion people were asking whether you had any. You know some people had religion and some people didn't have religion

The first job I had with the Smithsonian was as a field researcher among African American communities in Southwest Louisiana and Arkansas for the festival.

I learned that if you bring black people together you bring them together with a song. To this day I don't understand how people think they can bring anybody together without a song.

So one of the things that happened with integration in the South is they found that the black teachers were much more educated than the white teachers.

Today whenever women gather together it is not necessarily nurturing. It is coalition building. And if you feel the strain you may be doing some good work.

If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable you know it's not a broad enough coalition.

If we dwell in a community that is comfortable then it's probably not broad enough a coalition.

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you they're supposed to help you discover who you are.

But I'm a historian. I wasn't interested in just being a producer I was interested in doing research and presenting that research to a general public.

I went to a church where you could not sing out loud in the service until you had been saved.

When I started graduate school I was interested in the culture of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Civil Rights Movement also reaffirmed me as a singer. It taught me that singing was not entertainment it was something else.

At the same time all this was happening there was a folk song revival movement goingon so the commercial music industry was actually changed by the Civil Rights Movement.

I just don't think one person has that much to contribute to any subject

If every moment is sacred and If you are amazed and in awe most of the time when you find yourself breathing and not crazy then you are in a state of constant thankfulness worship and humility.

I was at the Smithsonian for twenty years and I'm still at the Smithsonian as a curator emeritus and I still plan to figure out what that means for me at this point in my life.

I started graduate school in 1971 I started working at the Smithsonian in the festival in 1972. I went full-time at the Smithsonian in 1974. And I got my doctorate in 1975.

Most people come out of their Ph.D. experience trying to prove themselves trying to get ahead trying to get published. You're scared everybody else is going to do your research and get your topic.

Mothering/nurturing is a vital force and process establishing relationships throughout the universe.

If I had been at a University I don't think I would have been able to have the experience I had in my Smithsonian work. I don't think I have been as successful.

The voice I have now I got the first time I sang in a movement meeting after I got out of jail... and I'd never heard it before in my life.

If in moving through your life you find yourself lost go back to the last place where you knew who you were and what you were doing and start from there.

I organized Sweet Honey In The Rock in 1973. The music was sanity and balance.

There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. Give it up.

And I used to think that proof that I had religion was whether I knew how to sing all of the songs.

What would you be like if you had white hair and had not given up your principles? It might be wise as you deal with coalition efforts to think about the possibilities of going for fifty years.