When we think about Black History Month, athletes, entertainers, inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs all come to mind. While we recognize the great achievements of African Americans, not much thought, however, is given to the mindset of greatness—what inspires these icons to reach higher and go further than prior generations.
It took a whole lot of determination for black folks to get from the slave ship to the White House and everywhere in between. So, in celebration of Black History Month, I offer a few quotes by famous African American thought leaders. Let their words inspire you to keep on keeping on.
“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
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
Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.
-- Arthur Ashe
You have to believe in yourself when no one else does -- that makes you a winner right there.
-- Venus Williams
There is no Negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution...
-- Frederick Douglass
Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind.
-- Quincy Jones
Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power.
-- Barbara Jordan
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
I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear.
-- Rosa Parks
Freedom is never given; it is won.
-- A. Philip Randolph
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
Yes we can.
-- Barack Obama