35 Quotes From Powerful Leaders To Celebrate Black History Month

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

February marks Black History Month, a time to commemorate and reflect on remarkable African American trailblazers who have left enduring legacies by igniting a desire for hope and change. In honor of Black History Month, we've gathered the most inspiring quotes from powerful Black leaders such as Toni Morrison, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King, Jr. These leaders have shared thought-provoking ideas that have forever impacted us and continue to encourage us today. May these wise words about dreams, humanity, and freedom inspire you, influence you, and challenge you.

MLK Black History Month
Central Press/Getty Images

Quotes About Change

Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. knew that social change was necessary, but it wouldn't be easy. He implored his followers, "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." Read what these changemakers had to say about what kept them going.

  • "History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own. –Michelle Obama
  • "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." –W.E.B. Du Bois
  • "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." –Nelson Mandela
  • "You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." –Malcolm X
  • "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." –Frederick Douglass
  • "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
  • "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 time is always right to do what is right." –Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • "Freedom is never given; it is won." –A. Philip Randolph
  • "We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free." –Amanda Gorman
  • "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." –Kamala Harris
inspirational Black History Month Quotes

Quotes About Humanity

Recognizing the humanity in ourselves and in others is what uplifts us in the face of adversity. These beautiful quotes emphasize the importance of self-worth as well as the necessity of making a positive impact for our fellow humans.

  • "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." –Thurgood Marshall
  • "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated." –Coretta Scott King
  • "If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you're going to get, you become a more successful person. In other words, if you want to make money, you have to help someone else make money." –Russell Simmons
  • "Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face." –Carol Moseley-Braun
  • "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." –Jackie Robinson
  • "My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." –Desmond Tutu
  • "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." –Martin Luther King Jr.
  • "It isn't where you come from; it's where you're going that counts." –Ella Fitzgerald
  • "Character is power." –Booker T. Washington
  • "I don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better." –Katherine Johnson
dreams black history month

Quotes About Achieving Your Dreams

Daring, courage, determination. These qualities and so many others drive us to achieve our dreams. Quotes from the important figures below inspire us to continue the struggle until we succeed.

  • "Hold on to your dreams of a better life and stay committed to striving to realize it." –Earl G. Graves, Sr.
  • "You can only become 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." –Maya Angelou
  • "Have a vision. Be demanding." –Colin Powell
  • "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly." –Langston Hughes
  • "There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints." –Rita Dove
  • "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
  • "What's the world for if you can't make it up the way you want it?" –Toni Morrison
  • "Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations." –Dr. Mae Jemison
  • "I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go." –Langston Hughes
  • "Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us." –Susan L. Taylor
  • "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
  • "Every time you state what you want or believe, you're the first to hear it. It's a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don't put a ceiling on yourself." –Oprah Winfrey
  • "I was walking through [Harvard] Yard in the evening, and a Black woman I did not know was passing me on the sidewalk ... She leaned over as we crossed and said, 'Persevere.'" –Ketanji Brown Jackson
  • "Education is transformational. It changes lives. That is why people work so hard to become educated and why education has always been the key to the American Dream, the force that erases arbitrary divisions of race and class and culture and unlocks every person's God-given potential." –Condoleezza Rice
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles