There is no better time to reminisce of the wise words of Black Americans of the past and present than this Black History Month. Quotes from prominent Black figures throughout time have inspired millions and left their mark on the world. This ranges from the calls for justice and unity like those of the many wise words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to encouraging reminders of resilience and empowerment. These Black History Month quotes remain important for all to hear even beyond the month of February.

Encouragement to never give up on a dream and to believe in oneself are even more relevant with this year’s Black History Month theme of African Americans and the Arts. Black artists have consistently spoken of having to “work twice as hard” as others in their respective fields while historically not being given the credit and recognition they deserve. There are some great quotes by Black artists and other notable Black figures on why having patience and determination when pursuing a dream are important that highlight this struggle.

Civil Rights Leaders on Fighting for Justice and the Need for Equality

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” – Malcolm X

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” – Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist

“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… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Whenever you take a stand for justice, you are going to make enemies.” – John Lewis, civil rights leader and Congressman

“Freedom is never given; it is won.” – A. Philip Randolph

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” – Angela Davis

Quotes From Prominent Black Figures Throughout History on Not Giving up and Overcoming Adversity

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes

“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

“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” – Carol Moseley Braun

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself—the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us—that’s where it’s at.” – Jesse Owens

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“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 Lou Hamer was a bridge.” – Oprah Winfrey

“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.” – Booker T. Washington

“In every crisis, there is a message. Crises are nature’s way of forcing change — breaking down old structures, shaking loose negative habits so that something new and better can take their place.” – Susan L. Taylor

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” – Barack Obama

“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.

“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.” – Toni Morrison

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

Black History Month Quotes From Famous Black Performers, Writers, Musicians, Actors and Other Artists

“I work really hard to try to see the beauty in everything and everyone and to be positive and hopeful.” – Tracy Chapman

“I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I’m going to be positive and not wake up feeling desperate.” – Billie Holiday

“You are your best thing.” – Toni Morrison, Author

“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” – Diana Ross

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” – Ella Fitzgerald

“We have to wake up and stop buying things from people who don’t value our lives.” – Michael B. Jordan

“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.” – bell hooks

“There ain’t nothing like the power of the people and fighting for what is right. I love that.” – John Boyega

“I’m not going to beg anybody for anything. I’m going to demand everything I deserve through hard work and my actions speaking for themselves.” – Misty Copeland, first African American female principal ballet dancer with American Ballet Theatre

“We’ve got to change our own neighborhoods. We’ve got to teach our kids to dream.” – Phylicia Rashad, Emmy Award winning actress

“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” – Beyonce Knowles-Carter

Quotes From Prominent Figures on Black Empowerment and Black Struggle

“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.” – Frederick Douglass

“The black woman is always spoken of as a woman. But she was girl before she was a woman in the normal transition of life. If she gets only the crumbs from the master’s table what food can she give her young?” – Anna Julia Cooper, scholar and early black feminist

“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

“The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.” – Henry Louis Gates Jr.

“Black women, you are more powerful than you know; you are more beautiful than you think; and you are valued far beyond any standards the world has set.” – Ava DuVernay, filmmaker and founder of Array

“Black women, our superpower is our ability to survive and continue forward in spite of.” – Ava DuVernay

“The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.” – Malcolm X

“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, feminist writer, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist

“We have nothing to lose but our chains.” – Shirley Chisholm, first African American woman elected to the United States Congress

Black History Month Quotes About Morality, Love and Acceptance

“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” – Carol Moseley Braun

“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” – Alice Walker

“The only way to deal with this life meaningfully is to find one’s passion and invest one’s time and talent in a way that benefits others.” – Marian Wright Edelman

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” – James Baldwin

“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” – Thurgood Marshall

“Strong people don’t put others down. They lift them up.” – Michael Jordan