Since this country began more than 240 years ago, people of color have had to fight for justice and equal rights. Although the struggle isn’t over, we can all be inspired by the men and women whose courage and sacrifice have made this country a better place. From former slaves Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington, to civil rights activists Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., to those who were pioneers in their fields, such as Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, and Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League Baseball, they have all left a mark on history.
Many of these celebrated Americans have shared what they’ve learned from their struggles, and their words continue to serve as inspiration for adults and children of all generations. Black History Month helps shine a spotlight on their contributions, but their words can be a motivation to stand up for what is right all year round.
“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
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” —George Washington Carver
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” —Maya Angelou
“Truth is powerful and it prevails.” —Sojourner Truth
“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
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” —Dr. Mae Jemison
“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
“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
“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” —Thurgood Marshall
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” —
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” —Jackie Robinson
“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
“Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it, and you’ll start believing in it.” —Jesse Owens