47 Influential Black History Month Quotes To Inspire and Empower

JayDee Vykoukal

black family gathering and smiling.

As we celebrate Black History Month every February, it is important to honor and recognize the contributions and accomplishments of African Americans throughout history. 

In addition to recognizing their achievements, it is also a time to reflect on the struggles and injustices they have faced and continue to face today.

Strong and brave figures throughout history paved the way for future generations, and their words have the power to inspire and empower individuals of all backgrounds.

When Did Black History Month Originate?

Multi generation mixed race family raise their glasses to make a toast.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Black History Month originally began as “Negro History Week” in 1926, created by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1976 by President Gerald Ford.

Why Is Black History Month in February?

February was chosen as Black History Month because it marks the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent figures in African American history and North American legislation.

What Are Some Ways To Celebrate Black History Month?

  1. Educate yourself on African American history: Take the time to read books, watch documentaries, or attend events that focus on important moments and individuals in black history.
  2. Support black-owned businesses: Show your support for the continued growth and success of black-owned businesses by shopping locally or online at their establishments.
  3. Volunteer in your community: Give back to your community by volunteering with organizations that support and empower African Americans.
  4. Attend cultural events: Celebrate and learn about African American culture through music, dance, food, and art at local events and festivals. Libraries, schools, and universities often offer events during February dedicated to celebrating black history.
  5. Start conversations: This month is an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with friends and family about the importance of Black History Month and the impact of African Americans on our society.

47 Inspiring Black History Month Quotes

Hundreds of powerful quotes from influential black figures throughout history continue to inspire and empower individuals today. Below is just a sample.

  1. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” – Booker T. Washington
  3. “The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.” – W.E.B. Du Bois
  4. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis
  5. “We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.” – Yvette Clarke
  6. “The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  7. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.” – Martin Luther King Jr. (from his acceptance speech for Nobel Peace Prize)
  8. “Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” – Orison Swett Marden
  9. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  10. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Dr. Mae Jemison
  11. “I am where I am because of the bridges that I crossed. Sojourner Truth was a bridge. Harriet Tubman was a bridge. Ida B. Wells was a bridge. Madame C. J. Walker was a bridge. Fannie Loue Hamer was a bridge.” – Oprah Winfrey
  12. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.” – Rosa Parks
  13. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.” – Abraham Lincoln
  14. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou
  15. “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” – Thurgood Marshall
  16. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
  17. “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
  18. “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” – Frederick Douglass
  19. “I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all.” – Zora Neale Hurston
  20. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  21. “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
  22. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker
  23. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama
  24. “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” – Fannie Lou Hamer
  25. “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  26. “You really can change the world if you care enough.” – Marian Wright Edelman
  27. “When they go low, we go high.” – Michelle Obama
  28. “I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go if you really want to go.” – Langston Hughes
  29. “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  30. “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln
  31. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass
  32. “Until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes, there will be war.” – Bob Marley
  33. “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself.” – Ijeoma Oluo
  34. “It’s not about supplication; it’s about power. It’s not about asking; it’s about demanding. It’s not about convincing those who are currently in power; it’s about changing the very face of power itself.” – Kimberlé Crenshaw
  35. “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X
  36. “The Black skin is not a badge of inferiority, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.” – Marcus Garvey
  37. “If you don’t understand white supremacy/racism, everything else that you think you understand will only confuse you.” – Neely Fuller Jr.
  38. “Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
  39. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  40. “Racism is a disease in society. We’re all equal. I don’t care what their color is, or religion. Just as long as they’re human beings, they’re my buddies.” – Mandawuy Yunupingu
  41. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  42. “Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to violence. This is the equation.” – Ibn Rushd
  43. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela
  44. “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph
  45. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
  46. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
  47. “One day, our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” – Franklin Thomas

Celebrating Influential Black Figures

President Barack Obama .
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Numerous influential black figures have made significant contributions to society throughout history. From activists and leaders to artists and athletes, their impact continues today.

One of the most well-known black figures is Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader who advocated for racial equality through nonviolent means. His famous “I Have a Dream” speech and his unwavering commitment to justice continue to inspire people around the world.

Other influential black figures in the civil rights movement include Rosa Parks, who famously refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Malcolm X, a powerful speaker and advocate for black empowerment.

Countless other groups of men and women in the American South (such as Georgia and Alabama) dedicated their livelihood to fighting for civil rights. Organizing sit-ins, strikes, and boycotts, these brave individuals helped pave the way for progress.

In the arts, Maya Angelou’s powerful poetry and storytelling captured readers’ hearts and minds, while Nina Simone used her music to raise awareness of social issues. 

In sports, athletes like Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph overcame racism and discrimination to achieve greatness on the world stage.

In politics, Barack Obama made history as the first African American President of the United States. His presidency marked a milestone for racial progress and opened the door for future leaders of color.

Finally, figures like Mae Jemison and George Washington Carver broke barriers in science and technology and paved the way for future generations.

Continuing the Celebration

It’s important to recognize and celebrate the achievements of these influential black figures and countless others who have made their mark on history. Their stories serve as a reminder that with determination, perseverance, and courage, anything is possible.

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks

Author: JayDee Vykoukal

Title: Founder

Expertise: motherhood, health, finance

JayDee Vykoukal is a writer, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and mom. She’s passionate about helping women live their best lives through community and education. Outside of her work as a health and mom blogger, she loves traveling the world and exploring the great outdoors with her family. 

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