Widely attributed to Jay-Z, this quote is becoming epic. And rightly so. It resonates with everyone who hears it. Over at quoteland there's a forum devoted to tracking down the source of this quote, which has made its way to the front page on Newsday when commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as well as on to t-shirts, street art, rugs and into Jay's version of "My President is Black."
While it didn't originate from Jay, he did tweak it into a more manageable and rap-able sound bite. "He heard it somewhere... But can't remember the name," Jay's office reports. French philosopher Bernard-Henry Levy quoted it on Charlie Rose, but it didn't originate with him either. After looking around, I can say with some certainty that the now celebrated words were uttered by Cleo Fields, former Congressman and State Senator from Louisiana, while speaking in February last year. The original version goes like this:
"W.E.B. Dubois taught so that Rosa Parks could take a seat. Rosa took a seat so we all could take a stand. We all took a stand so that Martin Luther King Jr. could march. Martin marched so Jesse Jackson could run. Jesse ran so Obama could WIN."
Dubois and Jesse Jackson are erased from the popular version, but at least now we know they were included in the original and who originally said them.
image from etsy