130 Black History Month quotes Celebrating African American Contributions

Looking for the best Black History Month quotes celebrating African American contributions?

These words will help you honor the accomplishments of black Americans.

We designate the month of February as Black History Month, a time to honor the achievements of African Americans and their contribution to U.S. history.

Each year Americans dedicate a few weeks to recognizing the contributions that people of African descent have made to this country.

Which of these Black History Month quotes resonated with you the most?

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of black elected officials in the United States has increased from fewer than 1,500 in 1970 to more than 10,000 in 2019.

Black History Month quotes can inspire people to get involved in politics and make a difference in their communities.

What is the benefit of reading Black History Month quotes?

Black History Month originally began as Negro History Week in 1926.

It took place during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

These Black History Month quotes will:

  • help you learn about the history of Black History Month
  • learn about historical figures of color
  • give you a new perspective on why we celebrate Black History Month

In 1976, President Gerald Ford expanded the week into a full month, calling on all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated February as Black History Month.

To better understand our shared history, all Americans should recognize the black community’s pains, progress, and accomplishments.

The Black History Month quotes below will help you honor the contributions made by black men and women.

Celebrating Black History Month honors the historic leaders of the black community and the sacrifice and suffering they endured to secure the rights and freedoms we enjoy in the present.

It also helps create an awareness of the past so that we can appreciate the privileges we’ve gained.

Celebrating reminds us that black history is our history and provides an opportunity to highlight the best of black history and culture.

To help you honor the accomplishments of black Americans, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and powerful Black History Month quotes, collected from a variety of sources over the years.

We also have a collection of empowering Bessie Coleman quotes in honor of the first African American woman to soar across the sky.

You may also enjoy our collection of Frederick Douglass quotes.

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

If you enjoy this collection, check out our inspirational quotes category page.

Black History Month quotes Celebrating African American Contributions

According to the National Science Foundation, the number of black scientists and engineers in the United States has more than tripled since 1993.

Celebrating African American contributions during Black History Month can encourage more young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

1. ”We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.” – Yvette Clarke

black history month quotes that Black History is American History

You will also enjoy our article on black and white quotes.

2. ”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

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You will also enjoy our article on Men in Black quotes.

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

black history month quotes about if there is no struggle, there is no progress

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

black history month quotes about the time is always right to do what is right

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

Black History Month quotes on freedom

6. ”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

black history month quotes to success

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

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8. “Go to work! Go to work in the morn of a new creation… until you have… reached the height of self-progress, and from that pinnacle bestow upon the world a civilization of your own.” – Marcus Garvey

black history month quotes about self progress

9. ”If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” – Marcus Garvey

black history month quotes on confidence in self

10. “Hold on to your dreams of a better life and stay committed to striving to realize it.” – Earl G. Graves, Sr.

black history month quotes about hold your dreams of a better life

If you enjoy this article, check out our collection of inspirational quotes from black leaders to help you keep going.

Black History Month quotes to honor the accomplishments of black Americans

According to the United States Census Bureau, the percentage of black Americans who have a bachelor’s degree or higher has increased from 11.3% in 1990 to 26.6% in 2020.

Celebrating African American contributions during Black History Month can encourage more people to pursue higher education and unlock their potential.

11. ”For I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart.” Mary McLeod Bethune

black history month quotes about Africa still beat in my heart

12. ”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

black history month quotes about bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave

13. ”Our responsibility as citizens is to address the inequalities and injustices that linger, and we must secure our birthright freedoms for all people. As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” – Barack Obama

black history month quotes about our responsibility

14. “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

black history month quotes about we should emphasize not Negro History

15. ”I don’t want a Black History Month.  Black history is American history. “- Morgan Freeman

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black history month quotes on I don't want a Black History Month

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

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17. ”You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man. “- Frederick Douglass

black history month quotes about you have seen how a man was made a slave

18. “I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why democracy means everybody but me.” – Langston Hughes

black history month quotes about I swear to the Lord I still can't see why democracy means everybody but me

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

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20. ”Black people have always been America’s wilderness in search of a promised land.” – Cornel West

black history month quotes about Black people have always been America's wilderness in search of a promised land

Black History Month quotes to celebrate the achievements of black men and women

21. “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

black history month quotes about there is no negro problem

22. ”Do not call for black power or green power.  Call for brain power.” – Barbara Jordan

black history month quotes for black power or green power. call for brain power

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of black women quotes for a boost of inspiration.

23. ”If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence.  We should, therefore, protest openly everything… that smacks of discrimination or slander.” – Mary McLeod Bethune

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24. “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

black history month quotes about the mutual progress

25. ”It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong.  What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee.  It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.” – Malcolm X

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26. “We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.  Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

27. ”Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.” –  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Black History Month quotes to celebrate the achievements of black men and women

28. ”When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.  There was such a glory over everything.” – Harriet Tubman, on her first escape from slavery, 1845

29. ”I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or rat in a trap.  I had already determined to sell my life as early as possible if attacked. I felt if I could take one lyncher with me, this would even up the score a little bit.” – Ida B. Wells
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of historic Ida B. Wells quotes about battling racism and sexism.

30. ”I’m not quite sure what freedom is, but i know damn well what it ain’t. How have we gotten so silly, i wonder.” – Assata Shakur

Black History Month quotes from prominent African American personalities

31. ”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.

32. ”There comes a time when people get tired of being plunged into the abyss of exploitation and nagging injustice.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

33. ”Character is power.” – Booker T. Washington

34. ”Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.” – Malcolm X

35. ”Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” – George Washington Carver

Black History Month quotes from prominent African American personalities

36. ”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

37. ”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

38. ”I knew then and I know now, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it.” – Claudette Colvin

39. ”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

40. ”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

Black History Month quotes to elevate your perspective

41. ”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
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of wise native American quotes on community, respect, and more.

42. ”During Black History Month, I’m reminded yet again of the ways that the struggle for civil rights is interwoven with the struggle for workers’ rights.” – Tom Perez

43. ”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

44. ”You can never know where you are going unless you know where you have been.” – Amelia Boynton Robinson

45. ”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.

46. ”Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.” – Susan L. Taylor

Black History Month quotes to inspire and motivate

47. ”Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Dr. Mae Jemison

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48. ”Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” – Ola Joseph

49. ”Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

50. ”Yes we can!” – Barack Obama

Don’t forget to also check out these history quotes that will open your eyes to stories of the past.

Black History Month quotes to inspire and motivate

51. “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” — Frederick Douglass

52. “… history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”— Michelle Obama

53. “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

54. “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

55. “While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.” — Maya Angelou

56. “The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.”— Mae C. Jemison

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

58. “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.

59. “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” — Malcolm X​

60. Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”— Denzel Washington

Black History month quotes to empower you

61. “Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.” —Dennis Leary

62. “If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.” — Beyoncé Knowles

63. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

64. “There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” —Rita Dove

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

66. “When I was about eight, I decided that the most wonderful thing, next to a human being, was a book.” — Margaret Walker

67. “There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.” —Michelle Obama

68. “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” — Rosa Parks

69. “Don’t let anything stop you. There will be times when you’ll be disappointed, but you can’t stop.” —Sadie T. M. Alexander

70. “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

You might also like these Carter G. Woodson quotes that will remind you how important it is to know black history.

Black history month quotes that will inspire you

71. “Black history is indeed American history, but it is also world history.” – Angela Y. Davis

72. “What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promise.” – Barbara Jordan

73. “If origin defines race, then we are all Africans – we are all black.” – Abhijit Naskar

74. “The validation of your dreams is not in the color of your skin but in the quality of your heart.” – Kingsley Opuwari Manuel

75. “Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege. In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.” – Tim Wise

76. “Black power showed up in different ways, depending on the goals of the group.” – Junius Williams

77. “Sometimes you don’t choose greatness, it chooses you. And when it does, it requires a certain level of understandin’, courage and a degree of blind hope.” – Jay Grewal

78. “A woman without no options is waiting for a man to come by an ruin her.” – Angela Flournoy

79. “Faced with a collective forgetting, we must fight to remember.” – Reni Eddo-Lodge

80. “We don’t live in a meritocracy, and to pretend that simple hard work will elevate all to success is an exercise in wilful ignorance.” – Reni Eddo-Lodge

More black history month quotes

81. “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.” —Frederick Douglass

82. “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” —Lena Horne

83. “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

84. “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” —Shirley Chisholm

85. “It was when I realized I needed to stop trying to be somebody else and be myself, I actually started to own, accept, and love what I had.” —Tracee Ellis Ross

86. “Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what’s more than enough.” —Billie Holiday

87. “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

88. “I feel safe in the midst of my enemies, for the truth is all-powerful and will prevail.” —Sojourner Truth

89. “Belief in oneself and knowing who you are—I mean, that’s the foundation for everything great.” —Jay-Z

90. “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” —James Baldwin

Black History Month quotes to enrich your education

91. “I didn’t learn black history in school. I had to go find Malcolm X books.” — Rza

92. “I went to white schools and I didn’t know anything about black history.” — Ed Dwight

93. “Black history is part of American history, and it should be treated as such.” — Janelle Monae

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94. “Black history is American history. You cannot tell one story without telling the other.” — William Barr

95. “It’s down to schools to educate children about their history, especially black history.” — Ashley Walters

96. “As we celebrate Black History Month we should be grateful for the achievements they made and inspired by their legacies to continue their work.” — Marty Meehan

97. “Black History Month is an annual opportunity to recognize the central role of African Americans in our state’s economic, cultural, social and political history.” — John Bel Edwards

98. “It is my hope that as we commemorate Black History Month in the future, we will continue to celebrate the many achievements and rich culture of African-Americans.” — Eliot Engel

99. “Black History Month must be more than just a month of remembrance; it should be a tribute to our history and reminder of the work that lies in the months and years ahead.” — Marty Meehan

100. “I love Black History Month and celebrating my ancestral roots, but not just my blackness, which is so beautiful. But my Tahitian and my Italian – everything that makes me, me.” — Jordan Fisher

Black History Month quotes for students

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

102. “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”Shirley Chisholm

103. “The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.” Maya Angelou

 104. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” Desmond Tutu

105. “If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.” James Baldwin

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

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

108. “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.” — Abraham Joshua Heschel

109. “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

110. “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

More Black History Month Quotes to Celebrate

111. “I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger.” – Serena Williams

112. “The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.” – Frederick Douglass

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

114. “Black history is a series of missing chapters from British history. I’m trying to put those bits back in.” – David Olusoga

115. “I grew up watching people and companies commercialize Black History Month. I watched old McDonald’s commercials, and they’d blacken up the commercials for 28 days then go back to normal in March. It got annoying to me.” – Jermaine Fowler

116. “Since I began presenting programmes about black history my life has become a constant impromptu focus group. I am stopped in the street by people who want to talk about the histories those documentaries explore.” – David Olusoga

117. “The failure to invest in youth reflects a lack of compassion and a colossal failure of common sense.” – Coretta Scott King

118. “You don’t have to be somebody different to be important. You’re important in your own right.” – Michelle Obama

119. “Do not be afraid to ask for help. Nobody gets through college on their own.” – Michelle Obama

120. “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

Black History Month quotes to ponder on

121. “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” — Angela Davis

122. “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

123. “Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals?” — Barack Obama

124. “There is no vaccine for racism.” Kamala Harris

125. “The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.” — Eldridge Cleaver

126. “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

127. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” — Nelson Mandela

128. “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.” — James Earl Jones

129. “For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.” — Maya Angelou

130. “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

Which of these Black History Month quotes was your favorite?

February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month.

It is a time to honor the accomplishments of black Americans throughout U.S. history.

Celebrating Black History Month reminds us that African Americans’ impact on this country is part of our collective consciousness.

Hopefully, the Black History month quotes above will help you honor the black community’s pains, progress, and accomplishments.

Did you enjoy these Black History Month quotes?

Which of the quotes was your favorite?

Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to share these Black History Month quotes on social media.

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  1. Linda Mullen

    February 6, 2019 at 5:39 PM

    I miss BArack Obama…

  2. Susan Heitzman

    February 4, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    Martin Luther King, Jr. :”Almost always, it is the creative dedicated minority that has made the world better.” This resonates with me deeply. But from childhood, before I realized I was part of the problem– the biography of George Washington Carver created in me a deep desire to see his spiritual energy and creativity moving us all forward.

  3. Carolyn

    February 3, 2019 at 5:26 PM

    YES! We are the the brain, brawn, and beauty of AMERICA! But THEY don’t want this fact to be known. They mention us in history when they had their foot on our necks.

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