Roi Ottley Collection  

St. Bonaventure University

Quotes about Ottley

"One of the outstanding Negro writers of America..." --Ernest Hemingway.  Notes, Observations and Memoranda Concerning Travels in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, France, Belgium, Italy and North Africa - June to December 1944. p.26 

" of the finest and most influential writers in the African-American community."  --Dexter Teed "Ottley Sees New-World-A-Coming." New York Post Daily Magazine  April 7, 1944 p.1  

"Roi Ottley  has performed a distinguished service for the better world, toward which some individuals are striving." -New York Times as quoted in The Bona Venture November 12, 1943

"Ottley experienced a measure of fame during his lifetime, but he was often overshadowed by many of his peers, especially those who wrote fiction rather than fact."  --Alan Delozier. An Examination of Racial Relations in Great Britain and the United States 1942-1945 by Black American Journalist Roi Ottley  

"Ottley's articles...represent a very practical step in the direction of developing better understanding between peoples, as well as being interested in their own right."  --Forrest F. Cleveland, Professor of Physics at Illinois Institute of Technology. Letter to the editor, Chicago Tribune November, 30, 1953

Quotes by Ottley

"But with the suddenness of a thunderclap, I realized that to be born an American citizen today is to be part of a real good thing - like being born into a rich and powerful family.  America is the greatest success story in human history.  I soon came to realize that abroad I was sort of a walking neon sign advertising the the nation's unique achievements.  For my colored countrymen and I enjoy a share of material things which most white people do not enjoy elsewhere in the world today."  -Excerpt from No Green Pastures, p.1

Negro is not a label for a race of people - but actually a description of a condition, a badge of social and racial inferiority, and a way of life in the United States.  The word applies to 14,000,000 people of color, living in slum corrals in towns, villages and cities.  Negro connotes song, dance and laughter.  Negro means lynchings, proscription and discrimination.  Even so, Negro is an inadequate description of the people it is supposed to label.  When scratched, they are white, black, red, brown, and yellow, and thousands of shades in between, resembling nearly every type pf person that inhabits the earth, with caste, class, racial and national differences."  -Excerpt from Black Odyssey, p.1

"I don't even want to try to see the glamour people, the folks who are running things.  I couldn't add a thing, I believe, to what has been said about them.  But I mean to find out what the working people expect, and what they are hoping for.  I mean to dig in wherever I can and stay until I get to know some of the people real well so that I can find out not so much what they are talking about but what they really think and how the feel." 
Current Biography, Who's Who & Why, 1943 Maxine Block ed., (New York: H.W. Wilson, Co., 1944), 567.

"In the United States the Negro, interestingly enough, is for integration.  That is, he doesn't want a separate state, separate nation, separate anything.  The fact is he just wants to be American."
-Ottley, Northwestern University on the Air, 7 August 1945, 5,in An Examination of Racial Relations in  Great Britain and the United States, 1942-1945, by Black American Journalist Roi Ottley. Alan Bernard Delozier. 1998.

"America is still the fabulous land of rags to riches, even for Negroes...Whatever might be the prejudice, whatever the outrages past and present against our people, where else in the world does the Negro get such splendid opportunity?  Where else in the world will a Negro woman drive a Cadillac?  Or will Negroes get the opportunity for education that they have in the U.S.?  Where indeed!  Consequently, we can say to Europe with absolute justice, 'Behold the mote in thine own eye.'"  -Excerpt from No Green Pastures, p.12-13

"His manner was calmly unhurried.  His eyes friendly.  He wore a rich, cream colored cassock and skull cap with a heavy gold crucifix dangling from his neck.  He was a straight, strong, thin, and tranquil figure in his Gothic folds.  Though he looked austere, the awkward period vanished quickly, when he extended his hand for me to shake.  This hand, oddly, was soft and small.  But his face had the strong, disciplined lines of the early Roman Emperors." -12/20/53 Chicago Tribune "Ottley Recalls Private Audience with Pope Pius XII"

"All I have tried to do is to tell their story.  Sometimes, moved deeply by such damnable acts of prejudice, I have allowed the words to cool and then I know it is not right.  It must be told without passion.  The facts must tell the story. "  -Dexter Teed, "Ottley sees New World Coming," New York Post Daily Magazine, April 7. 1944, 1.

Last updated: 05 December 2011

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