It’s Black History Month: Let The Words Of These Trailblazers & Activists Empower You To Go After Your Dreams

February is Black History Month, a time when we take a step back to remember and honor the black women and men who have suffered, risen up, and paved the way for the more tolerant world we live in today. 

It's no secret that we love an inspirational quote at Silk + Sonder, which is why we rounded up 50 motivational, meaningful phrases from the of the most inspirational figures in African American history, both past and present. Here they are:

1. “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

2. "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion within you to reach for the stars, to change the world." —Harriet Tubman

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

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

5. "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." —Thurgood Marshall 

6. "Black history is American history." —Morgan Freeman

7. “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” —Ida B. Wells

8. "Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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

10. “If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.” —Beyonce Knowles

11. “Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” —Toni Morrison

12. “Life has two rules: number one, never quit! Number two, always remember rule number one.” —Duke Ellington

13. “I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the color of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay.” —Tracee Ellis Ross

14. “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

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

16. “Truth is powerful and it prevails.” —Sojourner Truth

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

18. “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.” — Rosa Parks

19. “You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”― Ta-Nehisi Coates

20. “Be as you are and hope that it’s right.” —Dizzy Gillespie

21. “Character is power.” —Booker T. Washington

22. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any." —Alice Walker

23. "I grew up like a neglected weed — ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it." — Harriet Tubman

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

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

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

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

28. “Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free ... your true self comes out.” —Tina Turner

29. “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

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

31. “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

32. “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” —Michael Jordan

33. “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it."  —Toni Morrison

34. “Have a vision of excellence, a dream of success, and work like hell.” —Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook

35. “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

36. "We did not come to fear the future. We came to shape it." — Barack Obama

37. “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

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

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

40. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”—Dr. Mae Jemison

41. “You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.” —Nina Simone

42. “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” —Marcus Garvey

43. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

44. “I felt like it was time to set up my future, so I set a goal. My goal was independence.” —Beyonce Knowles

45. “We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right.” —Aretha Franklin

46. “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

47. "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for." —Barack Obama

48. “When I look at the future, it’s so bright it burns my eyes.” —Oprah Winfrey

49. “Truth is powerful and it prevails.” —Sojourner Truth

50. “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically … No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” —Rosa Parks

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