Black History Month is a great time to celebrate African American accomplishments and the many contributions Black Americans have made to our country. It’s a good time to reflect on inspirational quotes by iconic figures. Many Black icons have said things so powerfully that they have become mantras for generations. Some people feel inspired by these motivational quotes deeply. This often creates a sense of empowerment that can sometimes turn into actions for the good.
Well-known Black leaders in history like Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglas, and Angela Davis have used their words to share thought-provoking ideas that still encourage us today. Many actors, writers, directors, journalists, Black influencers, and more have said things that just move you, too. This includes director Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, and the late Chadwick Boseman.
Celebrate Black History Month With Inspirational Quotes
Many of these quotes highlight how our past shapes where we’re headed. Those uplifting quotes push us to keep moving forward with a clear purpose.
Many Civil Rights leaders knew that social change was necessary. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged his followers by saying, “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.”
Some influential Black people emphasized the necessity of a positive impact with their words. In 2014, Russell Simmons shared on X, “If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you’re going to get, you become a more successful person.”
There are even quotes from important figures who inspire us to achieve our dreams. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you,” said Maya Angelou.
If you’re looking for inspirational quotes to uplift, encourage, inspire, or celebrate Black History Month, then take a look at some below.
President Barack Obama said, “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.” Obama’s speech was presented to supporters after the nominating contests in 2008. Obama served as the 44th President of the United States. In 2023, he selected three cities to participate in the Change Collective. The Associated Press reported that the event was aimed at supporting the next generation of emerging leaders who are riding divides and driving change in their communities.
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations,” said Dr. Mae Jemison. She is a doctor, engineer, and NASA astronaut. According to the National Women’s History Museum, Jemison is leading the 100-Year Starship project through the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This project works to make sure human space travel to another star is possible within the next 100 years. Jemison became the first Black woman to go into space in 1992. She was one of seven crew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a mission named STS-47.
In 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris made remarks at the Celebration of America with moving words. “Even in dark times, we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless, and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome; that we will rise up. This is American aspiration.” Harris was sworn in as the Vice President – the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected in this position.
“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own,” said Michelle Obama, the first Black first lady of the U.S. She made these remarks at a keynote address at the Young African Women Leaders Forum in 2011. At this event, Obama recognized 76 young women leaders from across Africa. Obama is a lawyer, writer, and the wife of the 44th President Barack Obama. She has become an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families, higher education, and international adolescent girls education.
Selma director, Ava DuVernay made history as the first Black female director nominated for a Golden Globe. The director and writer are best known for her works, Selma, When They See Us, A Wrinkle in Time, Queen Sugar, and Origin. DuVernay is always sharing powerful thoughts on success, achievement, and the courage to start. “We have to find new ways to work without permission, new ways to turn corners and go through doors that are closed off to us to create our own audiences and our own material independently,” she said during a 2016 interview with Glamour.
Oprah Winfrey was the first Black woman to own her own production company. She was also nominated for an Academy Award in her first movie The Color Purple, and she recently was part of producing a new musical adaption of the film. On social media, you can catch Winfrey sharing quotes of strength, encouragement, and intention with her followers. “With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice,” she wrote on her website.
Have a purpose:
Chadwick Boseman passed away at 43 and many people saw him as a walking example of Black excellence. His first major role was in 42 as Jackie Robinson. He also scored major roles in Marshall, Get On Up, and of course, the box-office hit Black Panther. Not only did he inspire people in his roles, he also inspired people in real life. In 2018 during a commencement speech at Howard University, his alma mater, Boseman spoke about purpose and legacy. He told the graduating class that purpose is not defined by what you do for a living. “When you invest in a seed, watching it grow without you, that is a bitter pill to swallow,” he said. “Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.”