My identity is very clear to me now, I am a black woman.
Malcolm X raised my consciousness about myself and my people and other people more than any person I know. I knew him before he became Malcolm X.
Every color I can think of and nationality, we were all touched by Dr. King because he made us like each other and respect each other.
I remember the day tDr. King died. I wasn't angry at the beginning. It was like something very personal in my life had been touched and finished.
After I got over the terrible pain of having something of mine taken from me, I began to think how bad everybody else must be feeling. It wasn't a nice time.
I'm not alone, I'm free. I no longer have to be a credit, I don't have to be a symbol to anybody; I don't have to be a first to anybody.
Always be smarter than the people who hire you.
I learned from Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, Adelaide Hall, the Nicholas Brothers, the whole thing, the whole schmear. [The Cotton Club] was a great place because it hired us, for one thing, at a time when it was really rough [for Black performers].
The naked female body is treated so weirdly in society. It's like people are constantly begging to see it, but once they do, someone's a hoe.
It's so nice to get flowers while you can still smell the fragrance.
A little nepotism never hurt nobody, honey. If you got it, use it. Press on with it. Remind them of it.
I made a promise to myself to be kinder to other people.
In my early days I was a sepia Hedy Lamarr. Now I'm black and a woman, singing my own way.
It's ill-becoming for an old broad to sing about how bad she wants it. But occasionally we do.
I want to sing like Aretha Franklin. Before her I wanted the technical ability of Ella Fitzgerald.
Malcolm X made me very strong at a time I needed to understand what I was angry about. He had peace in his heart. He exerted a big influence on me.
I don't have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I'd become. I'm me, and I'm like nobody else.
I told them I belong to the same organizations and clubs Mrs. Roosevelt belongs to, but with a few brave exceptions, I was still unable to do films or television for the next seven years.