"Somehow we can't live outside the politics of race. There's something very deep in all of us, that is taught to us when we are very, very little. Which is the disrespect and fear of the other."
"A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."Anna Deavere Smith on John F. Kennedy
"Pick the day. Enjoy it - to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come... The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future."Anna Deavere Smith on Audrey Hepburn
"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death."Anna Deavere Smith on Thomas Paine
"We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict."Anna Deavere Smith on Jim Morrison
"What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it."Anna Deavere Smith on Jiddu Krishnamurti
"Racism has been for everyone like a horrible, tragic car crash, and we've all been heavily sedated from it. If we don't come into consciousness of this tragedy, there's going to be a violent awakening we don't want. The question is, can we wake up?"
"People who are sick, or who have been sick, or have come close to death have a lot to say - and they want you to hear it."
"Learning is a tunnel experience that makes us think more broadly."
"I feel like my work has been my path to freedom from having grown up in a segregated environment."
"The American idea is as promising, imaginative, and full of the unexpected as the land itself. The land represents freedom - the frontier, the ability to make a new future with your own bare hands."