Words to Inspire

Words can be empowering, encouraging and even energizing. In the spirit of Black History Month, we hope these quotes by famous African Americans will inspire you to make history by making a difference in your life and your community!

Quotes By Community and Political Figures

“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, 1st African American President of the United States of America

“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

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

“I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear.”
– Rosa Parks

“Have a vision. Be demanding.”
– Colin Powell

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

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

“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 people have always been America's wilderness in search of a promised land.”
– Cornel West, Race Matters

“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 on founding Negro History Week, 1926

Quotes By Artists

“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 "Still I Rise." And Still I Rise. 1978

“Just like you can buy grades of silk, you can buy grades of justice.”
– Ray Charles

“The past is a ghost, the future a dream. All we ever have is now.”
– Bill Cosby

“Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you, and when you have peace of mind.”
– Quincy Jones

“Be black, shine, aim high.”
– Leontyne Price

“God gives nothing to those who keep their arms crossed.”
– African Proverb

“Freedom is never given; it is won.”
– A. Philip Randolph in keynote speech given at the Second National Negro Congress in 1937

Quotes By Sports Figures

“Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.”
– Arthur Ashe

“I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get use to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get use to me.”
– Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, 1975

“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, Blackthink, 1970