That emphasis, from my parents, was always, "if you want something different from this" - they didn't say "better than this," because I'm not sure that they knew anything better, "then get an education."

— David C. Driskell

The most perspective David C. Driskell quotes that are little-known but priceless

When I became an adult, I had absolutely nothing against drinking alcohol.

Many of my friends drank. I would often make wine and offer it, but I never sat down and drank it myself. That affect my religious practice.

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My parents were not formally educated.

Both were cognizant of the importance of education. The teachers and ministers were the role models, and they would say, you should want to be like Miss Gardiner, you should want to be like Mr. Freeman, or be like your dad. Shun the people who don't value education.

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I remember an experience once of a young man in our home who was gay.

We just assumed it, based on his outward appearance. Gay people had a hard time in those days, in fifties since the police would create situations to lock them up.

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There was a young man in our community who said he wanted to be a minister, and my father was trying to mentor him in the ministry, and something supposedly happened in town.And this young man was jailed. I remember my father lamenting and saying, well, regardless of what happened, he's human; he's human like the rest of us and he deserves, to be heard and to be seen.

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I always said, you have to have a goal and an objective in life.

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In 1951 I took my first art course. And one day I looked over my shoulder and there was this tall gentleman standing, very well-dressed and groomed, and he asked, "What is your name? I don't know you. What is your major?" I said history. And he looked at my drawing and looked at me and said, "You don't belong over there; you belong here." He was James A. Porter.

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My sister was like my surrogate mother here, in Washington, with very much of the same persuasions as my mother. Even when friends came from home that I knew were more socially adaptable to the mores of the time, she would always caution me and say, "Be careful if you're going out with so and so because you know such and such a thing could happen." It was that kind of guardianship, and concern that imprinted me.

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We were told, no, you don't do. There was this high standard of morals and a sense of responsibility. That didn't mean that everybody stuck to those laws, but we were cognizant of the importance of trying to live up to that code.

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I think my criticism of the Pentecostal tradition that I heard with my sister's church was that it wasn't always audible. You couldn't quite figure out what was going on. And then, the people would very often do what they call speaking in tongues and I didn't know what they were saying. My father used to always say that if it can't be understood, then it's not the good news or not the gospel.

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It was my notion that teaching had to be thorough, it had to be well done, and it had to connect to something beyond the classroom; life.

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There was no real gender definition in the sense of how you treat people in those days with gender differences. You avoided them. My parents always told me that you do not make fun of anybody, and so I didn't see anything funny about it.

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When I became a professional and fully understood what was going on, I knew that with all the love and care and mentorship that someone like Professor James Herring had given us, was not based on gender; it was based on the notion that he wanted us to succeed.

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About David C. Driskell

Quotes 22 sayings
Profession Artist
Birthday June 7, 1931

I grew up with a sense of tolerance. I don't know that there was any talk about gender differences. It was respect for people. So when I became a professional and saw that there were a lot of differences in the sense of how people lived their lives, I became respectful of their territory, of their thoughts and their ideas, and it was never a problem for me to feel that this is my sister, this is my brother.

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Even when I became cognizant of this societal problem in this country, I asked my father and my mother if they knew anything that had been passed on to them, about slavery, and my father was very reticent about it. He often said, "No, I don't know anything about it, and it was bad, it was awful and it's over and we want to get on with our lives."

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I think I got from my father and my mother a sense of morality, of the do's and don't's in society; the notion that good people don't do this; good people are responsible, good people participate in community, and good people vote, good people own land. These were things I heard from my father's pulpit.

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James Porter said to me once, when I was talking about painting, he said, well, that's fine, he said, but you have a good mind so you can't just be a painter; you're going to have to help define the field and keep the tradition going. And he meant walking in his footsteps in a certain way.

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Personally, I think that my father's ministry does have some effect on one.

I perhaps thought I wasn't listening that well, but I could almost recite his sermons. He had the old-fashioned preaching style of chanting. He would explain a point and then there would be this pitch to excite the audience because people would eventually shout and respond to what he was saying.

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My students used to say, one such as Mary O'Neal, that I identified the students by their boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. That was the way I knew them and keep up with them. Mary was the girlfriend of Stokely Carmichael. She later became a fine painter of distinction and taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, and later became chairman of the Department of Art at Berkeley.

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I established relationships with so many of those Iran students that went on for years.And they were so different from American students. They seemed to worship their teachers. The professors were major to them. They wanted to give gifts, and you'd have to say, oh, no, no, you can't do that.

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Mary O'Neal used to say that I was teaching her course in disguise, as she said "in cultural disguise." What she meant was that this really was a very fervent kind of civil rights art course, not altogether art history. It wasn't altogether theory. She called it an action course.

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I always - I knew from day one , in college, that I wanted to be a teacher .

But I don't think I had envisioned becoming a professor at the time. I remained a history major until 1951.

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