Famous African American Quotes To Guide Your Life

Scroll down for a collection of Famous African American Quotes, listed alphabetically by the person's last name. 

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Famous African American Quotes

Muhammad Ali (Boxing Champion)

  • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. 
  • A man who has no imagination has no wings.  
  • I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be who I want to be.

Eddie Anderson (Comedian)

  • I wear my hair departed in the middle. 

Louis Armstrong (Jazz Musician)

  • All music is folk music. I ain't never heard no horse sing. 

Arthur Ashe (Tennis Champion)

  • Being a black man in America is like having another job.  

James Baldwin (Writer and Activist)

  • To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. 

Amiri Baraka (Writer) 

  • In America, black is a country. 

George Washington Carver (Inventor)

  • There is a use for almost everything. 

Frederick Douglas (Abolitionist and Writer)

  • The Republican Party is the ship. All else is the sea.  
  • You are not judged from the height to which you have risen, but from the depth from which you have climbed. 

W.E.B. DuBois (Intellectual and Activist)

  • There is no true American music but the wild sweet melodies of the negro slave. 
  • The spell of Africa is upon me.
  • In my early youth, a great bitterness entered my life and kindled a great ambition. 
  • I believe in pride of race and lineage and self; in pride of self so deep as to scorn injustice to other selves. Especially do I believe in the Negro race: in the beauty of its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its strength in that meekness which shall yet inherit this turbulent earth. 
  • This American black man knows: his fight is a fight to the finish. Either he dies or he wins. There can be no compromise. This is the last great battle of the west. 

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Paul Laurence Dunbar (Poet)

  • We wear the mask that grins and lies. 
  • The subtle, insidious wine of New York will begin to intoxicate. 
  • I know why the caged bird sings. 

George Foreman (Boxing Champion)

  • If you don't dream you might as well be dead. 

Marcus Garvey (Nationalist Leader)

  • Lift up yourselves. Take yourselves out of the mire and hitch your hopes to the stars! 
  • I know no national boundary where the Negro is concerned. The whole world is my province until Africa is free. 

Dick Gregory (Comedian/Activist)

  • I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that. 
  • Black is no longer a color; it's an attitude. 
  • The free man is the man with no fears. 
  • American history is a myth and can only be accepted when read with blinders that block out the facts. 

Jesse Jackson (Minister and Civil Rights Activist)

  • The burden of being black is that you have to be superior just to be equal. 

Martin Luther King Jr. (Civil Rights Activist & Nobel Laureate)

  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. 
  • Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others? 
  • When evil men plot, good men must plan. 
  • There are more Negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls. 
  • It may get me crucified. I may even die. But I want it said even if I die in the struggle that "He died to make men free.
  • Some of us must bear the burden of trying to save the soul of America. 
  • America is essentially a dream, a dream yet unfulfilled. 

Moms Mabley (Comedian)

  • Love is like playing checkers. You have to know which man to move. 
  • There ain't nothing an old man can do but bring me a message from a young one. 
  • If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. 

Satchel Paige (Baseball Player)

  • How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was? 

Rosa Parks (Civil Rights Activist)

  • When people made up their minds that they wanted to be free and took action, then there was a change.

Sojourner Truth (Abolitionist and women's rights activist)

  • I am colored, thank God for that. I have not the curse of God upon me for enslaving human beings. 
  • I cannot read a book, but I can read the people. 
  • I am above 80 years old. It is about time for me to be going. I have been 40 years a slave and 40 years free, and would be here 40 years more to have equal rights for all. I suppose I am kept here because something remains for me to do. I suppose I am yet to help break the chain. 
  • It is the mind that makes the body. 
  • I felt so tall within. I felt the power of a nation within me. 
  • I am not going to die. I'm going home like a shooting star! 

Harriet Tubman (Abolotionist)

  • Every time I saw a white man I was afraid of being carried away. Slavery is the next thing to Hell. 
  • I have heard their groans and sighs, and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them. 
  • I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves. 
  • If I never see you again, I'll see you in the kingdom. 

Malcolm X (Nationalist Leader)

  • The Muslim's X symbolized the true African family name that he could never know. For me, my X replaced the white slave master name of "Little," which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my forbears. 
  • My hobby is stirring up Negroes. 
  • I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. 

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Related Links

List of Quotes features more famous African American quotes, plus funny things said by other famous people. 

List of Sayings is a list of humorous adages and proverbs by Quentin Crisp and others clever enough to be famous for their quips.

List of Birthday Phrases Funny quips, quotes and jokes for birthday cards. Better yet, just say it to their faces.

Famous African American People

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