50+ Best African American Quotes To Celebrate Black History

Moumita Dutta
Dec 12, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Jan 11, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Desk of a Civil Rights Leader
Age: 0-99
Read time: 9.9 Min

"Black History is American History" — Morgan Freeman, 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace, 14 June 2006.

For many years now, Black History has been celebrated in many parts of the world for its rich heritage and the extreme amount of struggle these people had to face to survive in the white-dominated world.

Against the oppression and subjugation of White Supremacy, the African Americans have stood strong and have built a niche for themselves in a country where they had been brought only as slaves.

With the revolutionary Black Lives Matter, protests following the unfair deaths of many black women and men in the United States, very present in our minds, now is the time to look back upon history.

People like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey have come up as notable symbols of Black Lives and black people.

Thus, to commemorate, celebrate and reflect on this remarkable community, we have gathered some of the best inspirational African American quotes, inspirational quotes for black women, and quotes for black history month from legendary black leaders like Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Coretta Scott King, Colin Powell and many more.

Come let these black inspirational quotes challenge and inspire us into a better tomorrow!

If you are looking for more such black motivational quotes, check out our list of Black History Inspirational Quotes and African Quotes.

Civil Rights In America

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 tried to establish equal rights among black people. These quotes by African American advocates on civil rights in America will inspire us all!

1. "The time is always right to do what is right."

— Martin Luther King, Jr, Commencement Address at Oberlin College, 1965.

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, 'Up From Slavery: An Autobiography'.

3. "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

— Fredrich Douglass, 'Fredrich Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings'.

4. "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

Rosa Parks, 'Rosa Parks: My Story'.

5. "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."

Thurgood Marshall, Furman v. Georgia, 1972.

6. "One day our descendants will think it's 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 A. Thomas.

7. "I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time been ashamed."

— Ralph Ellison, 'Invisible Man'.

8. "Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me."

Zora Neale Hurston, 'How It Feels To Be Colored Me'.

9. "Freedom is never given; it is won."

— A. Philip Randolph.

10. "There is no Negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution."

— Fredrick Douglass, 'Narrative of the Life of Fredrich Douglass'.

Black Life, History, And Culture

Human rights leader performing his duties

When the Association for the Study of African American Life and History was founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1915, he strove for racial equality. These famous Black History quotes for inspiration and famous quotes by African Americans reflect this history.

11. "... history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."

— Michele Obama, Keynote Address at Young African Women Leaders Forum, 2011.

12. "For I am my mother's daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart."

Mary McLeod Bethune, Quoted in 'Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America' by Sara Evans (1989).

13." You can't really know where you are going until you know where you have been."

— Maya Angelou, 'America's Renaissance Woman', Academy of Achievement Interview, 22 January 1997.

14. "We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation's greatness."

— Yvette Clarke, Huffington Post, 2010.

15. "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, Thoughts on Black History Month, 2012.

16. "The African race is a rubber ball. The harder you dash it to the ground, the higher it will rise."

— African Proverb.

17. "Black people have always been America's wilderness in search of a promised land."

Cornel West, 'Race Matters', (2000).

18. "You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man."

— Frederick Douglass, 'Narrative of the Life of Fredrich Douglass'.

19. "We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice."

— Carter Woodson, 'The Mis-Education of the Negro', (1933).

20. "Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness."

— Ola Joseph.

21. "We are the heirs of a past of rope, fire, and murder. I for one am not ashamed of this past. My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us."

— Martin Luther King, Jr, 'Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?' (1967).

22. "I'm very proud to be Black, but Black is not all I am. That's my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it's not all of who I am nor is it the basis from which I answer every question."

—Denzel Washington.

The Crisis Of Black Education

Education plays a crucial role in the history of African Americans. Read these famous African American quotes about success and quotes from black leaders against the inequality they faced how they triumphed over it.

23. "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

— Malcolm X.

24. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

— Nelson Mandela.

25. "Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power."

— Barbara Jordan, Campus Speeches, Quoted in the Chicago Tribune, 1974.

26. "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education."

— Martin Luther King Jr, 'The Purpose of Education', Maroon Tiger, 1947.

27. "When children attend schools that place greater value on discipline and security than on knowledge and intellectual development, they are attending prep schools for prison."

— Angela Davis, 'Are Prisons Obsolete?' (2011).

28. "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

— Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Civil Rights March, Washington D.C., 1963.

29. "Without education, you're not going anywhere in this world."

— Malcolm X, Speech at Militant Labor Forum, New York, 1964.

30. "If the only time you think of me as a scientist is during Black History Month, then I must not be doing my job as a scientist."

— Neil deGrasse Tyson, Interview with MSNBC.com, 2007.

31. "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it."

Marian Wright Edelman, 'The Measure of our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours'.

32. "Turn your wounds into wisdom."

— Oprah Winfrey, 'What I Know For Sure', (2014).

The Black Dreamers

These inspirational quotes by African Americans will make you dream for a better future! Read these inspiring quotes for black women and men and every other people of the world.

33. "If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream."

—Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Civil Rights March, Washington D.C., 1963.

34. "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.

35. "Hold on to your dreams of a better life and stay committed to striving to realize it."

—Earl G. Graves, Sr.

36. "Have a vision. Be demanding."

—Colin Powell, 'It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership', (2012).

37. "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly."

—Langston Hughes, 'Dreams', (1994).

38. "What's the world for if you can't make it up the way you want it?"

— Toni Morrison, 'Jazz', (1992).

39. "Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us."

— Susan L. Taylor, 'Lessons in Living', (1995).

40. "Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations."

— Dr. Mae C. Jemison.

41. "You can only become accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you."

— Maya Angelou, Twitter, 10 June 2013.

42. "We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort."

Jesse Owens, 'Jesse, A Spiritual Autobiography'.

43. "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."

—Coretta Scott King, First National Conference on the Black Family and Crack Cocaine, speech at San Francisco, 14 April 1989.

The Black Struggle For Freedom

Being identified as nothing more than slaves by the American whites for centuries, the Black community still strives for freedom and identity. The following quotes about black people and their immense struggle towards freedom and equality will burn a fire in your heart.

44. "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear."

— Rosa Parks, 'Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope, and the Heart of a Woman who Changed a Nation' written by Rosa Parks and Gregory J. Reed, (1994).

45. "I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against."

— Malcolm X, 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X'.

46. "I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs."

— Frederick Douglass, 'Narrative of the Life of Fredrich Douglass'.

47. "You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."

— Malcolm X​, Speech in New York City (1965).

48. "Yes we can!"

— Barack Obama, Campaign Slogan, 2008.

49. "Don't aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference."

— Denzel Washington, 2017 Commencement Speech at Dillard University.

50. "In all my life, I have never been free. I have never been able to do anything with freedom, except in the field of my writing."

— Langston Hughes, 'True Freedom'.

51. "Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise."

— Maya Angelou, 'And Still I Rise', (1978).

52. "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."

— Martin Luther King, Jr, Speech in Washington D.C., 1968.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for The Best African American Quotes to celebrate Black History, then why not take a look at these Juneteenth quotes, civil rights quotes, or the Stokely Carmichael quotes.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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