125 Best Inspirational Quotes From Black Leaders

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best inspirational quotes from black leaders

To celebrate the legacies of famous Afro-American leaders, here we have compiled a list of 125 best inspirational quotes from black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Michelle Obama, Nina Simone, and many others.

Read these quotes better to understand the philosophies of these great black leaders. These leaders have ignited radical changes in our society and shared thought-provoking ideas to create an equal environment for everyone.

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125 Inspirational Quotes From Black Leaders

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

quote from black leaders – almost always the creative dedicated minority has made world better

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2. “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.” – Michelle Obama

3. “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

4. “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” – Thurgood Marshall

quote from black leaders – in recognizing the humantiy of our fellow beings, we pay tribute

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5. “Did you know that the human voice is the only pure instrument? That it has notes no other instrument has? It’s like being between the keys of a piano.” – Nina Simone

6. “I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote

7. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

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

quote from black leaders – the cost of liberty is less than price of repression

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9. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali

quote from black leaders – he who is not courageous enough to take risk accomplish nothing

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10. “The road back may not be as short as we wish,… But there are solid reasons to feel confident about the future.” – Richard Parsons

11. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Dr. Mae Jemison

quote from black leaders – never be limited by other people's limited imaginations

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12. “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” – James Baldwin

quote from black leaders – those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted

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13. “We need to internalise this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.” – Barack Obama

quote from black leaders – we need to internalise this idea of excellence

14. “When I was younger there was something in me. I had passion. I may not have known what I was going to do with that passion, but there was something — and I still feel it. It’s this little engine that roars inside of me and I just want to keep going and going.” – Sheila Johnson

15. “I am where I am because of the bridges that I crossed. Sojourner Truth was a bridge. Harriet Tubman was a bridge. Ida B. Wells was a bridge. Madame C. J. Walker was a bridge. Fannie Lou Hamer was a bridge.” – Oprah Winfrey

16. “The things that make us different, those are our super powers.” – Lena Waithe

quote from black leaders – the things that make us different those are our super powers

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

quote from black leaders – for i am my mother's daughter and the drums of africa

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18. “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.” – Frederick Douglass

quote from black leaders – the soul that is within me no man can degrade

19. “It’s up to you to bring yourself to the attention of powerful people around you. They’re not going to find you on their own.” – Richard Parsons

20. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

21.

22. “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

quote from black leaders – just don't give up what you trying to do. where there is love

23. “The one thing I feel is lacking in Hollywood today is an understanding of the beauty, the power, the sexuality, the uniqueness, the humour of being a regular Black woman.” – Viola Davis

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

quote from black leaders – hate is too great a burden to bear. it injures the hater more than it

25. “I want to stop transforming and just start being.” – Ursula Burns

quote from black leaders – i want to stop transforming and just start being

26. “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

27. “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, historian

28. “Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by colour.” – Albert Memmi

quote from black leaders – laundry is the only thing that should be seprated by colour

29. “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

30. “You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.” – Rosalind Brewer

31. 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, author and politician

32. “When I dare to be powerful to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde, poet and activist

33. “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X

quote from black leaders – you can't seprate peace from freedom because no one

34. “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” – Booker T. Washington

quote from black leaders – there are two ways of excerting one's strength one is pushing down

35. “What’s the world for if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”-Toni Morrison

quote from black leaders – what's the world for if you can't make it up the way you want it

36. “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson

quote from black leaders – a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives

37. “THE ONLY WAY YOU REALLY SEE CHANGE, IS BY HELPING CREATE IT.” – Lena Waithe

quote from black leaders – the only way you really see change is by helping create it

38. “When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

inspirational quotes from black leaders – when you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way

39. “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.” – President Barack Obama

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

inspirational quotes from black leaders – have a vision of excellence, a dream of success,and work like hell

41. “To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world. Black people. And I mean that in every sense.” – Nina Simone

inspirational quotes from black leaders – to me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world

42. “It was when I realised I needed to stop trying to be somebody else and be myself, I actually started to own, accept, and love what I had.” – Tracee Ellis Ross

43. “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

inspirational quotes from black leaders – for to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way

44. “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.” – Frederick Douglass

45. “The need for change bulldozed a road down the centre of my mind.” – Maya Angelou

inspirational quotes from black leaders – the need for change bullozed a road down the centre of my mind

46. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

47. “If you have no confidence in yourself, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” – Marcus Garvey

48. “I always believed that when you follow your heart or your gut, when you really follow the things that feel great to you, you can never lose, because settling is the worst feeling in the world.” – Rihanna

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

inspirational quotes from black leaders – i am lucky that whatever fear i have inside me, my desire to win

50. Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph, first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games

51. “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” – George Washington Carver

52. “We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” – Jimmy Carter

53. “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false and to incur my own abhorrence.” – Frederick Douglass

54. “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey

inspirational quotes from black leaders – challenges are gift that force us to search for a new centre of gravity

55. “The road back may not be as short as we wish,… But there are solid reasons to feel confident about the future.” – Richard Parsons

56. “Go to work in the morn of a new creation…until you have…reached the height of self-progress, and from that pinnacle bestow upon the world a civilization of your own.” – Marcus Garvey

57. “The impatient idealist says: ‘Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.’ But such a place does not exist. We all have to stand on the earth itself and go with her at her pace.”- Chinua Achebe

58. “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” – Toni Morrison

inspirational quotes from black leaders – freeing yourself was one thing claming ownership that freed was another

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

60. “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne

61. “Character is power.” – Booker T. Washington

inspirational quotes from black leaders – character is power

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

63. “Truth is powerful and it prevails.” – Sojourner Truth

64. “The thing about Black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.” – Henry Louis Gates

inspirational quotes from black leaders – the thing about black history is that the truth is more complex

65. “There are two kinds of worries—those you can do something about and those you can’t. Don’t spend any time on the latter.” – Duke Ellington

66. “We’re bosses, and that’s what I consider feminism: female hustlers.” – Cardi B

67. “Success? I don’t know what that word means. I’m happy. But success, that goes back to what in somebody’s eyes success means. For me, success is inner peace. That’s a good day for me.” – Denzel Washington

68. “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” – Malcolm X

69. “Self-love has very little to do with how you feel about your outer self. It’s about accepting all of yourself.” – Tyra Banks

inspirational quotes from black leaders – self love has very little to do with how you feel

70. “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

71. “Power means happiness; power means hard work and sacrifice” – Beyonce Knowles

inspirational quotes from black leaders – power means happiness power means hard work and sacrifice

72. “Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it, and you’ll start believing in it.” – Jesse Owens

73. “It’s up to you to bring yourself to the attention of powerful people around you. They’re not going to find you on their own.” – Richard Parsons

74. “Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what’s more than enough.” – Billie Holiday

inspirational quotes from black leaders – somebody once said never know what is enough until

75. “The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.” – Barack Obama

76. “No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.” – Alice Walker

77. “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” – Rosa Parks

inspirational quotes from black leaders – each person must live their life as a model for others

78. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” – Desmond Tutu

inspirational quotes from black leaders – my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human

79. “Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” – Shonda Rhimes

80. “Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.” – John Lewis

81. “I have standards I don’t plan on lowering for anybody, including myself.” – Zendaya

inspirational quotes from black leaders – i have standards i dont plan on lowering for anybody

82. “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

83. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

quote from black leaders – you may not control all events happen to you

84. “If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.” – Roberto Clemente

85. “You really can change the world if you care enough.” – Marian Wright Edelman

inspirational quotes from black leaders – you really can change the world if you care enough

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

87. “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

88. “There will always be men struggling to change, and there will always be those who are controlled by the past.” – Ernest J. Gaines

inspirational quotes from black leaders – there will always be men struggling to change

89. “Women make up more than half of the world’s population and potential. So it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making.” – Meghan Markle

90. “Unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty and racism, and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free.” – Shirley Chisholm, first Black woman to be elected to Congress (in 1968) and to run for president (in 1972)

91. “I have standards I don’t plan on lowering for anybody, including myself.” – Zendaya

inspirational quotes from black leaders – i have standards i dont plan on lowering for anybody

90. “Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned throughout my journey that perfection is the enemy of greatness.” – Janelle Monae

91. “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

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

inspirational quotes from black leaders – racism is man gravest threat to man the maximum of haterd

92. “It’s okay to fall down. Get up, look sickening, and make them eat it!” – Ru Paul

93. “One of the challenges associated with a company becoming large is that companies become hierarchical. They become bureaucratic. They become slow. They become risk averse.” – Kenneth C. Frazier

94. “If you’re a competitive person, that stays with you. You don’t stop. You always look over your shoulder.”

inspirational quotes from black leaders – if you're a competitive person that says with you. you don't stop

95. “History has always been a series of pendulum swings, but the individual doesn’t have to get caught in that.” – Robert L. Johnson

96. “If we are going to be part of the solution, we have to engage the problems.” – Majora Carter

97. I always make sure I hire people smarter than me.” – Aliko Dangote

inspirational quotes from black leaders – i always make sure i hire people smarter than me

98. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.” – James Baldwin, 20th-century poet, novelist, playwright, and activist

99. “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

100. “You are not and yet you are: your thoughts, your deeds, above all your dreams still live.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

inspirational quotes from black leaders – you are not and yet you are your thoughts, your deeds,

101. “A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option – for peace cannot exist where justice is not served.” – John Lewis

102. “It’s important for young people to know that they are made the way they are made and they’re beautiful and that’s how they’re supposed to be.” – Raven Symone

103. “All I know is I’ve tried my best.” – Tiger Woods

inspirational quotes from black leaders – all i know is i've tried my best

104. “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” – Cornel West, philosopher, political activist, and social critic

105. “It’s important for young people to know that they are made the way they are made and they’re beautiful and that’s how they’re supposed to be.” – Raven Symone

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

inspirational quotes from black leaders – i can accept failure everyone fails at something

107. If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against all odds.” – Jesse Jackson, American political activist, politician, and Baptist preacher

108. “Black history isn’t a separate history. This is all of our history, this is American history, and we need to understand that. It has such an impact on kids and their values and how they view black people.” – Karyn Parsons

109. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

inspirational quotes from black leaders – success is liking yourself liking what you do, and liking how you do it

110. “[Don’t] let anyone convince you that your dream, your vision to be an entrepreneur, is something that you shouldn’t do. What often happens is that people who are well-meaning, who really care for us, are afraid of us and talk us out of it.” – Cathy Hughes

111. “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” – Wilma Rudolph

112. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou, author and poet

113. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” – Harriet Tubman

inspirational quotes from black leaders – every great dream begins with a dreamer

114. “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” – Zora Neale Hurston

115. “The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.” – Eldridge Cleaver

inspirational quotes from black leaders – the price of hating other human beings is loving onself less

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

117. “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West, philosopher, political activist, and social critic

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

inspirational quotes from black leaders – i have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up

119. “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

120. “I have this ability to find this hidden talent in people that sometimes even they didn’t know they had.” – Berry Gordy

121. “My Vocation is my Vacation. I love what I do.” – Nick Cannon

inspirational quotes from black leaders – my vocation is my vocation. i love what i do

122. ”I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why democracy means everybody but me.” —Langston Hughes

123. “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” –Jackie Robinson

inspirational quotes from black leaders – a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives

124. “It isn’t where you come from; it’s where you’re going that counts.” –Ella Fitzgerald

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

Wrapping Up

We summarize our list of 125 best inspirational quotes from black leaders. These quotes will help you understand the legacies of these inspirational leaders and the changes they introduced to reform our society. Please share your favorite quotes in the comments section below. If we missed any of your favorite quotes from leaders you admire, share them with us, and we will add them to this list.

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