74 Powerful Black History Month Quotes for School and Work

Home » Resources » Black History Month QuotesUpdated: September 15, 2021

You found our list of inspirational Black History Month quotes.

Black History Month takes place during February in the US and Canada. The month is recognition of the experiences and accomplishments of the Black community. The purpose of the month is to underline the importance of civil rights, strive for greater equality, and empower Black history-makers to tell their own stories.

Black History Month quotes are sayings about racial equality and justice. Many of these quotes are from prominent civil rights leaders and Black trailblazers.

Sharing these quotes is a way to celebrate Black History Month at work. These quotes are similar to Asian heritage month quotes and Hispanic Heritage quotes.

This list includes:

Here we go.

Black excellence quotes

  1. “I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life.” – Oprah Winfrey
  2. “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  3. “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.” – Michelle Obama
  4. “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” – Muhammad Ali
  5. “Have a vision of excellence, a dream of success, and work like hell.” – Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook
  6. “The very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.” – Toni Morrison
  7. “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” – James Baldwin
  8. “To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world. Black people. And I mean that in every sense.” – Nina Simone
  9. “We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.” – Barack Obama
  10. “The things that make us different, those are our super powers.” – Lena Waithe
  11. “If you can be the best, then why not try to be the best?” – Garrett Morgan

Black empowerment quotes

  1. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Dr. Mae Jemison
  2. “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.” – Frederick Douglass
  3. “We will all, at some point, encounter hurdles to gaining access and entry, moving up and conquering self-doubt; but on the other side is the capacity to own opportunity and tell our own story.” – Stacey Abrams
  4. “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” – Marcus Garvey
  5. “I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger.” – Serena Williams
  6. “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm
  7. “The impatient idealist says: ‘Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.’ But such a place does not exist. We all have to stand on the earth itself and go with her at her pace.” – Chinua Achebe
  8. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker
  9. “Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey
  10. “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” – Toni Morrison
  11. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
  12. “I will not take ‘but’ for an answer.” – Langston Hughes
  13. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde

Black motivational quotes

  1. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass
  2. “Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” – Ella Fitzgerald
  3. “History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own. – Michelle Obama
  4. “It isn’t where you come from; it’s where you’re going that counts.” – Ella Fitzgerald
  5. “Character is power.” – Booker T. Washington
  6. “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” -James Baldwin
  7. “Truth is powerful and it prevails.” – Sojourner Truth
  8. “Freedom is never given; it is won.” – A. Philip Randolph
  9. “Have a vision. Be demanding.” – Colin Powell
  10. “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes
  11. “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” – Malcolm X
  12. “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” – George Washington Carver
  13. Power means happiness; power means hard work and sacrifice -Beyonce Knowles
  14. “The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.” – Barack Obama
  15. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Y. Davis
  16. “No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.” – Alice Walker

African American quotes on leadership

  1. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
  2. “Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” – Shonda Rhimes
  3. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
  4. “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” – Booker T. Washington
  5. “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
  6. “When we’re talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us.” – Ava DuVernay
  7. “If we do not know how to meaningfully talk about racism, our actions will move in misleading directions.” – Angela Davis
  8. “Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.” – John Lewis
  9. “If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.” – Malcolm X
  10. “If your success is defined as being well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference, then we don’t want successful leaders. We want great leaders who love the people enough and respect the people enough to be unbought, unbound, unafraid, and unintimidated to tell the truth.” – Dr. Cornel West
  11. “A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, where upon the other follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” – Nelson Mandela
  12. “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  13. “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

Famous quotes for Black History Month

  1. “I had no idea that history was being made. I was just tired of giving up.” – Rosa Parks
  2. “Darkness can not drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. “Won’t it be wonderful when black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.” – Maya Angelou
  4. “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
  5. “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel
  6. “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King
  7. “The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.” – W.E.B. Du Bois
  8. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  9. “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” – Angela Davis
  10. “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” – Ijoema Oluo
  11. “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” – Thurgood Marshall
  12. “Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” – Ola Joseph
  13. “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X
  14. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” – Desmond Tutu
  15. “If you’re going to hold someone down you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.” – Toni Morrison
  16. “A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option – for peace cannot exist where justice is not served.” – John Lewis
  17. “The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.” – Henry Louis Gates
  18. “Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.” – William Lloyd Garrison
  19. “We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.” – Yvette Clarke
  20. “Black history isn’t a separate history. This is all of our history, this is American history, and we need to understand that. It has such an impact on kids and their values and how they view black people.” – Karyn Parsons
  21. “History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.” – Malcolm X

Conclusion

Black History Month aims to amplify Black voices. The words of leaders and visionaries who dedicated their lives to Black empowerment and the fight for equality are worth repeating. These messages empower the oppressed, inspire future generations, and call on every member of society to treat all humans with fairness and dignity.

For more wise words, check out our lists of inspirational quotes for work, Presidents Day quotes and famous quotes by women.

FAQ: Black History Month Quotes

Here are answers to common questions about Black History Month quotes.

What are Black History Month quotes?

Black History Month quotes are sayings from famous figures that touch on themes of civil liberties, racial justice, and Black excellence and empowerment. Many of these quotes are from prominent Black leaders, writers, and philosophers.

Why should you share Black History Month quotes?

Part of the purpose of Black History Month is to enable Black voices to tell their own stories. By using quotes from community members and leaders, you can gain more authentic insight into the Black experience.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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