Looking for the best Black History Month quotes celebrating African American contributions? These words will help you honor the accomplishments of black Americans.
The month of February is designated as Black History Month, a time to honor the achievements by African Americans and their contribution to U.S. history. Each year Americans dedicate a few weeks to recognize the contributions that people of African descent have made to this country.
The History of Black History Month
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.
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.
Why do we celebrate Black History Month?
To have a better understanding of our shared history, all Americans should recognize the pains, progress, and accomplishments of the black community. 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 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. Be sure to read that as well.
Black History Month quotes Celebrating African American Contributions
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
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
3. ”If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass
4. ”The time is always right to do what is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
5. “Freedom is never given; it is won.” – A. Philip Randolph
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
7. “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes
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
9. ”If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” – Marcus Garvey
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 to honor the accomplishments of black Americans
11. ”For I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart.” – Mary McLeod Bethune
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
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
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
15. ”I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history. “- Morgan Freeman
16. ”The African race is a rubber ball. The harder you dash it to the ground, the higher it will rise.” – African Proverb
17. ”You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man. “- Frederick Douglass
18. “I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why democracy means everybody but me.” – Langston Hughes
19. ”Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” – Carol Moseley-Braun
20. ”Black people have always been America’s wilderness in search of a promised land.” – Cornel West
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
22. ”Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power.” – Barbara Jordan
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
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
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
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.
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
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
47. ”Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Dr. Mae Jemison
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.
More black history month quotes
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 colour 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
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 the impact African Americans have made on this country is part of our collective consciousness. Hopefully, the Black History month quotes above will help you honor the pains, progress, and accomplishments of the black community.
Did you enjoy these Black History Month quotes? Which of the quotes was your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.
March 22, 2021 6:00 AM EST