85 Famous Black History Month Quotes (2023)

Black History Month Quotes

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If you live in the US or Canada, Black History Month is celebrated in February, while in the UK, for example, it is observed in October. Wherever you are in the world, though, this one month is dedicated to raising awareness of the trials and tribulations of African and Caribbean people throughout time, as well as celebrating their achievements and contributions to the world.

Speaking of strength, struggles, heroism, and tenacity, these Black History Month quotes will give you an insight into what this important month is all about, while also encouraging you to find out more about the astounding people whose words have been quoted. From world leaders like Barack Obama and Desmond Tutu to civil rights activists including Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., these words will inspire you to strive for what is right, no matter the color of your skin.

Many people have no real idea of the oppression and opposition faced by black people, both in America and across the world. By reading these Black History Month quotes, you will get a sense of the resilience it took – and still takes – to rise above bigotry and racial bias and succeed in a world that wants you to fail.

If you’re looking for more, also take a look at these Bob Marley quotes (for peace and reflection) and these Maya Angelous quotes (for empowerment).

Most Famous Black History Quotes

You don’t have to be somebody different to be important. You’re important in your own right.

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

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

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

The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.

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

You may also like: These inspiring Martin Luther King Kr. quotes: https://brightdrops.com/inspirational-martin-luther-king-jr-quotes

The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.

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

One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.

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

I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger.

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

Related: Michael Jordan Quotes

The validation of your dreams is not in the color of your skin but in the quality of your heart.

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

If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.

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

Each person must live their life as a model for others.

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

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.

“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

It’s down to schools to educate children about their history, especially black history.

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

Faced with a collective forgetting, we must fight to remember. – Reni Eddo

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

In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.

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

Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.

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

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

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

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.

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

The soul that is within me no man can degrade.

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

A woman without no options is waiting for a man to come by an ruin her.

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

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.

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

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

“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

Black history is American history. You cannot tell one story without telling the other.

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

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

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

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

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

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

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

Black power showed up in different ways, depending on the goals of the group.

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

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.

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

There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.

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

I went to white schools and I didn’t know anything about black history.

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

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.

“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

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.

“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

If origin defines race, then we are all Africans – we are all black.

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

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.

“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

I feel safe in the midst of my enemies, for the truth is all-powerful and will prevail.

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

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.

“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.

There is no vaccine for racism.

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

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

“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

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.

“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

Black history is a series of missing chapters from British history. I’m trying to put those bits back in.

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

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.

“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

As we celebrate Black History Month we should be grateful for the achievements they made and inspired by their legacies to continue their work.

“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

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.

“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

The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.

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

Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.

“Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.” – Denzel Washington

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.

“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

The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.

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

Black history is part of American history, and it should be treated as such.

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

When I was about eight, I decided that the most wonderful thing, next to a human being, was a book.

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

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

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

There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.

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

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.

“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

Freedom is never given; it is won.

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

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.

“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

The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.

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

Don’t let anything stop you. There will be times when you’ll be disappointed, but you can’t stop.

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

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

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

Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals?

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

What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promise.

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

I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why democracy means everybody but me.

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

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.

“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

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

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

If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.

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

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

“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

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.

“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​

While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.

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

The failure to invest in youth reflects a lack of compassion and a colossal failure of common sense.

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

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.

“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 is indeed American history, but it is also world history.

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

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.

“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

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.

“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

If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.

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

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.

“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

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.

“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.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Nobody gets through college on their own.

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

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.

“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 need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.

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

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.

“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.

Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what’s more than enough.

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

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

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

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.

“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

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

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

It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.

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

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

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

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.

“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

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

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

If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.

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

More Good Quotes from Inspirational Black People:

  • 55 Malcolm X Quotes on Freedom, Equality and Justice
  • 25 Nelson Mandela Quotes on How to Be a Good Person
  • 20 Most Inspiring Kobe Bryant Quotes
  • From world leaders to civil rights activists including Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., these Black History Month quotes will inspire.

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