Heritage is what we inherit from those who came before. We usually talk about heritage in the sense of cultural heritage — ideas, habits, patterns that are passed on to us from those who’ve preceded us.

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I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.

— Abraham Lincoln

I am spellbound by the plays of Shakespeare. And I am spellbound by the second law of thermodynamics. The great ideas in science, like the Cro-Magnon paintings and the plays of Shakespeare, are part of our cultural heritage.

— Alan Lightman

In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.

— Alex Haley

And I saw for the first time how, despite the isolation of our own lives, we are always connected to our ancestors; our bodies hold the memories of those who came before us, whether it is the features we inherit or a disposition that is etched into our soul.

— Alyson Richman

But what is identity really? What is it to ‘belong’ when we cast ourselves in the mold of a social group? I ask this, in spite of my implicit allegiance to one; yet, it is a worthwhile question. I mean, really, what does it even mean to share a commonality of blood or language or religion or heritage or context or economy or trade—and what value does this sharing of common traits, values and experiences truly have when there exists already a larger model of connection and commonality enveloping these disparate identities whole…? Do we pout at our inadequacies in the face of a “something” that is slightly more heterogeneous in its model of belonging? Sometimes, we simply must let go and chalk up all these movements to an inveterate (and arbitrary) sense of pride.

— Ashim Shanker

Malcolm was a firm believer in the value and importance of our heritage. He believed that we have valuable and distinct cultural traditions which need to be institutionalized so that they can be passed on to our heirs.

— Betty Shabazz

You get to choose who you are. Legacy, memories of the past, can serve us well. But we cannot let them define us. When heritage becomes a box instead of an inspiration, it has gone too far.

— Brandon Sanderson, Skyward

Like all of Latin America, Mexico after independence in 1821 turned its back on a triple heritage: on the Spanish heritage, because we were newly liberated colonies, and on our Indian and black heritages, because we considered them backward and barbaric. We looked towards France, England and the U.S., to become progressive democratic republics.

— Carlos Fuentes

In the past, a great library was the result of librarians functioning as guardians of culture, tending and caring, selecting and recommending works that maintained and nurtured a cultural heritage.

— David Gerrold

There is a real problem with the lack of diversity, specifically in genre films and the superheroes our kids grow up watching and emulating, they can’t really identify with. When you see the same thing, over and over again, and it seems not to speak of you and your heritage and your culture, it leaves you out of this world, a little bit. It gives a certain social distance with your world.

— Djimon Hounsou

A university is not about results in the next quarter; it is not even about who a student has become by graduation. It is about learning that molds a lifetime, learning that transmits the heritage of millennia; learning that shapes the future

— Drew Gilpin Faust

The human soul is like a bird that is born in a cage. Nothing can deprive it of its natural longings, or obliterate the mysterious remembrance of its heritage.

— Epes Sargent

The rich world of his ancestors set the standards for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s own life. It gave him a certainty of judgment and manner that cannot be acquired in a single generation.

— Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Happiness is a very proud word of our whole cultural heritage.

— Erich Fromm

Never to forget where we came from and always praise the bridges that carried us over.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

We cannot adopt the way of living that was satisfactory a hundred years ago. The world in which we live has changed, and we must change with it.

— Felix Adler

To understand and reconnect with our stories, the stories of the ancestors, is to build our identities.

— Frank Delaney

The transmission from generation to generation of vast fortunes by will, inheritance, or gift is not consistent with the ideals and sentiments of the American people…. [I]nherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our government.

— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, James MacGregor Burns, The Three Roosevelts

We want to raise our children so that they can take a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others.

— Fred Rogers

Conversations between parents and kids are important, about race issues, about all kinds of things, about heritage.

— Garcelle Beauvais

The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the technique of life.

— Georg Simmel

The heritage of the American Revolution is forgotten, and the American government, for better and for worse, has entered into the heritage of Europe as though it were its patrimony–unaware, alas, of the fact that Europe’s declining power was preceded and accompanied by political bankruptcy, the bankruptcy of the nation-state and its concept of sovereignty.

— Hannah Arendt

When you ask your white friends what their cultural heritage is, they don’t just say white. They give you a math equation. ‘Well, I’m a third German and a fourth Irish and one-sixteenth Welsh and one-fortieth Native American for college applications.’

— Hari Kondabolu

The Greeks had just one word for ‘economize.’ Our New England grandmothers had twelve: ‘Eat it up; use it up; make it do; or do without.’

— Helen Lyon Adamson

If you know whence you came, there is no limit to where you can go.

— James Baldwin

But let us not forget that human love and compassion are equally deeply rooted in our primate heritage, and in this sphere too our sensibilities are of a higher order of magnitude than those of chimpanzees.

— Jane Goodall

If our salmon are not healthy, then our watersheds are not healthy-and if our watersheds our not healthy, then we have truly squandered our heritage and mortgaged our future.

— John Kitzhaber

When we build … let it not be for present delights nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think … that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labor, and the wrought substance of them, See! This our fathers did for us!

— John Ruskin

Patriotism is not so much protecting the land of our fathers as preserving the land of our children.

— José Ortega y Gasset

Because men have a history, it is difficult for them to imagine what it is like to grow up without one, or the sense of personal expansion that comes from discovering that we women have a worthy heritage. Along with pride often comes rage – rage that one has been deprived of such a significant knowledge.

— Judy Chicago

What we owe to our ancestors is not worship but work. Not didactic eulogies upon the courage, the daring, the dreams that are dust, but dreams of our own sprung from that dust to show that their vision still lives in us.

— Laura Goodman Salverson

DNA opens an even more mysterious door to understanding the human condition: all of our ancestors live within each one of us whether we are aware of it or not.

— Laurence Overmire

There is beauty in our roots. Sometimes we think our roots are shameful, and people tell you that you’re no good or your ancestors are no good or that you come from a neighborhood of no hope and terrible crime. But it’s about the beauty of those places, and I carry that with me.

— Luis Alberto Urrea

Heredity is nothing but stored environment.

— Luther Burbank

In America, I’m a foreigner because of my Korean heritage. In Asia, because I was born in America, I’m a foreigner. I’m always a foreigner.

— Margaret Cho

Love and the hope of it are not things one can learn; they are a part of life’s heritage.

— Maria Montessori

We need to broaden our sympathies both in space and time — and perceive ourselves as part of a long heritage, and stewards for an immense future.

— Martin Rees

A bush with strong roots stands better than a tree with weak ones.

— Matshona Dhliwayo

If you know where you are from, it is harder for people to stop you where you are going.

— Matshona Dhliwayo

What disturbs or assures us about race has very little to do with blood or biology. Race is about how you use language, understand your heritage, interpret your history, identify with your kin, figure out what your meaning and worth to a society that places values on you beyond your control. And it’s also about what people see you as – or take you to be.

— Michael Eric Dyson

The partition of India in 1947 legitimized the forces of masculinist nationalism and enabled hatred for the “other” to irreparably mutilate a shared anti-colonial legacy and cultural heritage so systematically that the wounds inflicted by the partition are yet to heal.

— Nyla Ali Khan

For the first time since I began acting, I feel that I’ve found my place in the world, that there’s something out of my own culture which i can express and perhaps help others preserve…. I have found out now that the African natives had a definite culture a long way beyond the culture of the Stone age…an integrated thing, which is still unspoiled by western influences…. I think the Americans will be amazed to find how many of the modern dance steps are relics of African heritage.

— Paul Robeson

We are a continuum. Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values, so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead to our children and their children. And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.

— Paul Tsonga

My father urged Alan [Lomax] not to repeat the mistakes of the European folklorists who, a century ago, had collected these peasant songs and then arranged them for part choir and accompanied them on piano, and then told the young people of their country, ‘Don’t change a note, this is our sacred heritage.’ Father said, whether it’s a fiddle tune or a gospel song, learn it right off the record from the people who grew up with it. Don’t just learn it from a piece of paper.

— Pete Seeger

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Man is physical as well as metaphysical, a thing of shreds and patches, borrowed unequally from good and bad ancestors, and a misfit from the start.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man finds room in the few square inches of the face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history, and his wants.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rather than be asked to abandon one’s own heritage and to adapt to the mores of the new country, one was expected to possess a treasure of foreign skills and customs that would enrich the resources of American living.

— Rudolf Arnheim

When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves.

— Russell M. Nelson

It’s good to be proud of your heritage and your culture, but pride can be perverted.

— Sam Hunt
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