Black History Month Quotes

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Muslim & non-Muslim African-American celebrities from different fields summing up their experiences being of a black color in this country.

1-“You can’t have capitalism without racism.”  – Malcolm X

2- “Concerning non-violence: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”  – Malcolm X

3- “Even the Us’s are Them’s.”  – Darnell Lamont Walker

4-” Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.” – Oprah Winfrey

5- “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”  – Toni Morrison

6- “I always looked upon the acts of racist exclusion, or insult, as pitiable, for the other person. I never absorbed that. I always thought that there was something deficient about such people. ” – Toni Morrison

7- “I swear to the Lord, I still can’t see, Why Democracy means, Everybody but me.” -Langston Hughes

8- “Now I had won the gold medal. But it didn’t mean anything, because I didn’t have the right color skin.”  – Muhammad Ali

9- “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”  – Muhammad Ali

10- “To cheapen the lives of any group of men, cheapens the lives of all men, even our own. This is a law of human psychology, or human nature. And it will not be repealed by our wishes, nor will it be merciful to our blindness.” – William Pickens

11-“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” – James A. Baldwin

12- “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James A. Baldwin

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

14- “Maybe it’s time to just scrap the word “racist.” Find something new. Like Racial Disorder Syndrome. And we could have different categories for sufferers of this syndrome: mild, medium, and acute.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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

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

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, 2016 January 29th, quoted from The White House Office of the Press Secretary

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 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, 1926

This being Black History Month, I would like to ask people to celebrate the similarities and not focus on the differences between people of color and not of color.  ~Lynn Swann

The African-American experience is one of the most important threads in the American tapestry.  ~Bill Frist

I don’t want a Black History Month.  Black history is American history.  ~Morgan Freeman

Through avalanches of prejudices; industrial barriers; professional intrigues; legal technicalities; diplomatic effronteries, and political buffetings, the American Negro has, at last arrived before the public eye, as a factor not easily to be evaded. ~Mitchell Davis, One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race, 1917

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

Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness. ~W.E. Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963), “The Forethought: Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” The Souls of Black Folk, 1903

I am America.  I am the part you won’t recognize.  But get used to me.  Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.  ~Muhammad Ali

You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.  ~Frederick Douglass

The people of the Piney Grove establishment, both white and black, had been free for nearly a generation. The whites had been freed from the curse of being slave-holders, and the blacks had been freed from the curse of being held in bondage. ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), “Thanksgiving at Piney Grove,” Floyd’s Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905

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.

I swear to the Lord
I still can’t see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.
~Langston Hughes

I am not tragically colored.  There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes…. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less.  No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.  ~Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels to Be Colored Me, 1928

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

Freedom is never given; it is won.  ~A. Philip Randolph

Black people have always been America’s wilderness in search of a promised land.  ~Cornel West, “Nihilism in America,” Race Matters, 1993

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

You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.  ~Billie Holiday

In overthrowing me, only the trunk of the tree of negro liberty has been cut down; its branches will shoot up again, for its roots are numerous and deep. ~Toussaint Louverture (c.1743–1803)

Do not call for black power or green power.  Call for brain power.  ~Barbara Jordan

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

Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.  ~Author Unknown

It is the misfortune of men of African descent to be heavily shadowed by a cloud, and they must wait to have it dispelled before they can be properly seen, either by themselves or by others. Suspicion of the presence of a drop of African blood in the veins of a man, however able and distinguished, is a blight and mildew upon his life for American society…. His race is hated and his color is crime. The verdict of both court and country is against him in advance of evidence or argument…
There are few things in the world more blinding than race prejudice, and there are but few things more inflexible and persistent. Against the claims of truth and justice, to say nothing of brotherly kindness, it stands like a wall of brass. Reason and common sense dash themselves against it in vain. Individual men have risen and are rising above it, but the masses are ever under its sway and direction…. neither Irishman, Jew, nor Chinaman is fully included in the high human circle; but the fiercest wrath of this race prejudice is reserved for men and women of African blood. ~Frederick Douglass, “Toussaint L’Ouverture,” c.1890

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.  ~Frederick Douglass

We are the wrong people of the wrong skin in the wrong continent and what in the hell is everybody being reasonable about?  ~June Jordan

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, —
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties…
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
~Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), “We Wear the Mask”

We do not deride the fears of prospering white America.  A nation of violence and private property has every reason to dread the violated and the deprived.  ~June Jordan

No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.  ~Booker T. Washington

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

The United States has been called the melting pot of the world.  But it seems to me that the colored man either missed getting into the pot or he got melted down.  ~Thurgood Marshall

Have a vision of excellence, a dream of success, and work like hell. ~Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, advice to all black youth, c.1967

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

Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.  ~William Lloyd Garrison

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

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

To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.  ~William Faulkner

Racial superiority is a mere pigment of the imagination.  ~Author Unknown

Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.  ~Arthur Ashe

I am an invisible man…. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind.  I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.  ~Ralph Ellison

I think there’s just one kind of folks.  Folks.  ~Harper Lee

This is our country, as much as it is the country of any other race…. We may be the descendants of Africans, but we are citizens of the United States. This is our home… ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), “Our Country,” Floyd’s Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905

The time is always right to do what is right.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others…. One ever feels his twoness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.  ~W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903

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.

Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead.  The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our nation is a rainbow – red, yellow, brown, black, and white – and we’re all precious in God’s sight.  ~Jesse Jackson, speech at Democratic National Convention, San Francisco, 17 July 1984

“We, the people.”  It is a very eloquent beginning.  But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787 I was not included in that “We, the people.”  I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, just left me out by mistake.  But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in “We, the people.”  ~Barbara Jordan

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

I had no idea that history was being made.  I was just tired of giving up.  ~Rosa Parks

[W]hen you first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are), and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro… when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” – then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.  ~Oprah Winfrey

The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the shadowy and of the Egypt the Sphinx.  Throughout history, the powers of single blacks flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.  ~W.E.B. DuBois

We black men seem the sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in a dusty desert of dollars and smartness.  ~W.E.B. DuBois

To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.  ~W.E.B. DuBois

There were in the midst of Northern society forces and influences continually at work misrepresenting the Negro. Art lent its fascinating, but mischievous, pencil to paint him in form and features most repulsive. Northern people traveling through the South have discovered that we are not so bad looking after all. I say it, and I say it without fear of successful contradiction, that many of the handsomest citizens the United States can boast of to‑day have the warm blood of Africa coursing through their veins. ~William H. Crogman (1841–1931), address delivered at the anniversary of the Freedmen’s Aid Society, 1883 August 13th, Ocean Grove, New Jersey  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

In this country American means white.  Everybody else has to hyphenate.  ~Toni Morrison

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.  ~Abraham Lincoln

You can not possibly have a broader basis for government than that which includes all the people, with all their rights in their hands, and with an equal power to maintain their rights.  ~William Lloyd Garrison

I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government.  ~Cissy Farenthold

Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.  ~Desmond Tutu

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

Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.  ~Countess of Blessington

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.  ~Robert F. Kennedy

The majority of the Negroes who took part in the year-long boycott of Montgomery’s buses were poor and untutored; but they understood the essence of the Montgomery movement; one elderly woman summed it up for the rest.  When asked after several weeks of walking whether she was tired, she answered:  “My feet is tired, but my soul is at rest.”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even when the polls are open to all, Negroes have shown themselves too slow to exercise their voting privileges.  There must be a concerted effort on the part of Negro leaders to arouse their people from their apathetic indifference…. In the past, apathy was a moral failure.  Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Negro is the child of two cultures – Africa and America.  The problem is that in the search for wholeness all too many Negroes seek to embrace only one side of their natures.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

As I like to say to the people in Montgomery:  “The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people.  The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is such a thing as the freedom of exhaustion.  Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up…. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber…. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

American means white, and Africanist people struggle to make the term applicable to themselves with ethnicity and hyphen after hyphen after hyphen.  ~Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, 1992

My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you.  And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it.  ~Paul Robeson

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

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 dearly 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

All the negro asks is that the door which rewards industry, thrift, intelligence and character be left as wide open for him as for the foreigner who constantly comes to our country. More than this he has no right to request. Less than this a republic has no right to withhold. ~Booker T. Washington, 1904 February 12th, Armstrong Association meeting, New York City

As long as the colored man look to white folks to put the crown on what he say… as long as he looks to white folks for approval… then he ain’t never gonna find out who he is and what he’s about.  ~August Wilson, .Jr.

The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence.  It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.  ~Maya Angelou

Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different?  Outside of cannibalism, which can be matched in this country, at least, by lynching, there is no vice and no degradation in native African customs which can begin to touch the horrors thrust upon them by white masters.  Drunkenness, terrible diseases, immorality, all these things have been gifts of European civilization.  ~W.E.B. DuBois

Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.  ~William Lloyd Garrison

The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.  As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.  ~Harper Lee

Prejudice is the child of ignorance.  ~William Hazlitt

I will always remember my delight when Mrs. Georgia Gilmore – an unlettered woman of unusual intelligence – told how an operator demanded that she get off the bus after paying her fare and board it again by the back door, and then drove away before she could get there.  She turned to Judge Carter and said:  “When they count the money, they do not know Negro money from white money.”  ~Martin Luther King,  Jr.

We did not hesitate to call our movement an army.  But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The problem with hatred and violence is that they intensity the fears of the white majority, and leave them less ashamed of their prejudices toward Negroes.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

[W]e 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.

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

When the Negro was completely an underdog, he needed white spokesmen.  Liberals played their parts in this period exceedingly well…. But now that the Negro has rejected his role as an underdog, he has become more assertive in his search for identity and group solidarity; he wants to speak for himself.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, “There lived a great people – a black people – who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.”  This is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

And so we shall have to do more than register and more than vote; we shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect, who have moral and ethical principles we can applaud with enthusiasm.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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. 

1. I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.
— Muhammad Ali The Greatest (1975)

2. 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)

3. Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.
— Arthur Ashe

4. Just like you can buy grades of silk, you can buy grades of justice.
— Ray Charles

5.You have to believe in yourself when no one else does — that makes you a winner right there.
Venus Williams

6. 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

7. You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.
— Billie Holiday

8. Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind.
— Quincy Jones

9. Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power.
— Barbara Jordan

10. Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

11. 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)

12.I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.
— Rosa Parks

13. Have a vision. Be demanding.
— Colin Powell

14. Be black, shine, aim high. — Leontyne Price

15. Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. — Kenyan Proverb

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

Barack Obama17. 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

18. Black people have always been America’s wilderness in search of a promised land.
— Cornel West, Race Matters

19. 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

20. Yes we can.
— Barack Obama, President of the United States

1. I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.
— Muhammad Ali The Greatest (1975)

2. 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)

3. Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.
— Arthur Ashe

4. Just like you can buy grades of silk, you can buy grades of justice.
— Ray Charles

5.You have to believe in yourself when no one else does — that makes you a winner right there.
Venus Williams

6. 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

7. You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.
— Billie Holiday

8. Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind.
— Quincy Jones

9. Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power.
— Barbara Jordan

10. Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

11. 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)

12.I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.
— Rosa Parks

13. Have a vision. Be demanding.
— Colin Powell

14. Be black, shine, aim high. — Leontyne Price

15. Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. — Kenyan Proverb

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

Barack Obama17. 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

18. Black people have always been America’s wilderness in search of a promised land.
— Cornel West, Race Matters

19. 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

20. Yes we can.
— Barack Obama, President of the United States

 

Black History Month is frequently also referred as African-American History Month.
Here are the 75 Best Black History Month Quotes:

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

2. “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

3. “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

4. “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

5. “This being Black History Moth, I would like to ask people to celebrate the similarities and and not focus on the difference between people of color and not of color.”
Lynne Swann

6. “The African-American experience is one of the most important threads in the American tapestry.”
Bill Frist

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

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

9. “I am American. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”
Muhammad Ali

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

11. “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.

12. “I swear to the Lord
I still can’t see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.”
Langston Hughes

13. “I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes…Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”
Zora Neale Hurston

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

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

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

17. “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

18. “You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar can for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.”
Billie Holiday

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

20. “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

21. “Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.”
Author Unknown

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

23. “We are the wrong people of the wrong skin in the wrong continent and what in the hell is everybody being reasonable about?”
June Jordan

24. “We do not deride the fears of prospering white America. A nation of violence and private property has every reason to dread the violated and the deprived.”
June Jordan

25. “No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”
Booker T. Washington

26. “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

27. “The United States has been called the melting pot of the world. But it seems to me that the colored man either missed getting into the pot or he got melted down.”
Thurgood Marshall

28. “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

29. “Wherever there is a human being, I see God given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.”
William Lloyd Garrison

30. “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

31. “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

32. “To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.”
William Faulkner

33. “Racial superiority is a mere pigment of the imagination.”
Author Unknown

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

35. “I am an invisible man…I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
Ralph Ellison

36. “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
Harper Lee

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

38. “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others…One ever feels his twoness – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
W.E.B. Dubois

39. “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.

40. “Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead. The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

41. “Our nation is a rainbow – red, yellow, brown, black, and white – and we’re all precious in God’s sight.”
Jesse Jackson

42. “‘We, the people.’ It is a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787 I was not included in that ‘We, the people.’ I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court decision I have finally been included in ‘We, the people.'”
Barbara Jordan

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

44. “I had no idea that history was being made. I was just tired of giving up.”
Rosa Parks

45. “[W]hen you first name becomes ‘nigger,’ your middle name becomes ‘boy’ (however old you are0, and your wife and mother are never given the respected title ‘Mrs.,’ when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro…when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ – then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

46. “I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.”
Oprah Winfrey

47. “The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the shadowy and of the Egypt the Sphinx. Throughout history, the powers of single blacks flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.”
W.E.B. DuBois

48. “We black men seem the sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in a dusty desert of dollars and smartness.”
W.E.B. DuBois

49. “To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.”
W.E.B. DuBois

50. “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”
Toni Morrison

51. “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
Abraham Lincoln

52. “You can not possibly have a broader basis for government than that which includes all people, with all their rights in their hands, and with an equal power to maintain their rights.”
William Lloyd Garrison

53. “I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government.”
Cissy Farenthold

54. “Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.”
Desmond Tutu

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

56. “Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.”
Countess of Blessington

57. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope…and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy

58. “The majority of the Negroes who took part in the year-long boycott of Montgomery’s buses were poor and untutored; but they understood the essence of the Montgomery movement; one elderly woman summed it up for the rest. When asked after several weeks of walking whether she was tired, she answered: ‘My feet is tired, but my soul is at rest.'”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

59. “Even when the polls are open to all, Negroes have shown themselves too slow to exercise their voting privileges. There must be a concerted effort on the part of Negro leaders to arouse their people form their apathetic indifference…In the past, apathy was a moral failure. Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

60. “The Negro is the child of two cultures – Africa and America. The problem is that in search for the wholeness all too many Negroes seek to embrace only one side of their natures.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

61. “As I like to say to the people in Montgomery: ‘The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

62. “There is such a thing as the freedom of exhaustion. Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up…The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber…To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

63. “American means white, and Africanist people struggle to make the term applicable to themselves with ethnicity and hyphen after hyphen after hyphen.”
Toni Morrison

64. “My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you. And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it.”
Paul Robeson

65. “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

66. “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 dearly 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

67. “As long as the colored man look to white folks to put the crown on what he say…as long as he looks to white folks for approval…then he ain’t never gonna find out who he is and what he’s about.”
August Wilson, Jr.

68. “The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste, and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.”
Maya Angelou

69. “It is a civilization naturally backward because it is different? Outside of cannibalism, which can be matched in this country, at least, by lynching, there is no vice and no degradation in native African customs which can begin to touch the horrors thrust upon them by white masters. Drunkenness, terrible diseases, immortality, all of these have been gifts of European civilization.”
W.E.B. Dubois

70. “Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.”
William Lloyd Garrison

71. “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, no matter how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”
Harper Lee

72. “Prejudice is the child of ignorance.”
William Hazlitt

73. “I will always remember my delight when Mrs. Georgia Gilmore – an unlettered woman of unusual intelligence – told how an operator demanded that she get off the bus after paying her fare and board it again by the back door, and then drove away before she could get there. She turned to Judge Carter and said: ‘When they count the money, they do not know Negro money from white money.'”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

74. “We did not hesitate to call our movement an army. But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

75. “The problem with hatred and violence is that they intensity the fears of the white majority, and leave them less ashamed of their prejudices toward Negroes.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

15 Inspiring Quotes for Black History Month: ‘Freedom Is Never Given’ 

In honor of Black History Month, check out these 15 inspiring quotes from civil rights icons including Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

1. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

—Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut

2. “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.

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

4. “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”
—Thurgood Marshall, first African American U.S. Supreme Court member

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

6. “Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.”
—Susan L. Taylor, journalist

7. “Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.”
—Carol Moseley-Braun, politician and lawyer

8. “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.”

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

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

13. “Have a vision. Be demanding.”
—Colin Powell

14. “Freedom is never given; it is won.”
—A. Philip Randolph, civil rights activist

15. “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

Bonus: 

“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, world record-setting Olympic athlete

Franklin Thomas, activist, philanthropist, and former president of the Ford Foundation

 

 

 

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