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20 Profound Quotes by Black Writers to Celebrate Black History Month

by Staff Writers | The Web Writer Spotlight: Feb 11, 2014

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February is Black History Month in the U.S and Canada.

Black History Month is an annual celebration observed for a whole month in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. It commemorates and celebrates the achievements, contributions and history of people of African decent.

In the U.K, Black History Month is celebrated in the month of October.

The origins of Black History Month trace back to what was originally known as Negro History Week, established in the 1920s through the efforts of Dr. Carter G. Woodson (an alumnus of the University of Chicago) and other African American scholars.

Negro History Week was observed in the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two staunch American abolitionists who played a pivotal role in shaping black history in the West.

 

Celebrating Black History Month

 

Over the years many black personalities like W.E.B. DuBois, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou have fearlessly addressed pressing issues in society such as education, identity, equality and civil rights, and also presented new ideas that have helped shape the world as we know it today.

For their dedicated effort, prophetic insights and creative output that include creating remarkable fiction and nonfiction, these men and women have received numerous awards and accolades, including the Nobel Prize.

In honor of these remarkable individuals and this great month, we've put together some powerful quotes from notable black writers you can share with friends and loved ones during this month of February, or any day. We hope the quotes are uplifting and motivational, and you will find nuggets of wisdom in them that can be a source of encouragement in your daily life. Enjoy.

 

  1. W.E.B Dubois (African-American historian, activist and author).

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"Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor—all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked—who is good? Not that men are ignorant—what is truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men."

 

  1. Nikki Giovanni Jr. (African-American writer and educator).

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“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”

 

  1. Toni Morrison (African-American novelist and professor).

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“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

 

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

 

  1. Derek Walcott (St. Lucian poet and playwright).

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“… the truest writers are those who see language not as a linguistic process but as a living element….”

 

  1. Maya Angelou (African-American author and poet).

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“You can only become accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

 

  1. George Washington Carver (African-American educator, scientist and inventor).

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“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

 

  1. Alice Walker (African-American author, poet and activist).

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“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book.”

 

“If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?”

 

  1. Langston Hughes (African-American poet, novelist and playwright).

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“An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”

 

  1. Booker T. Washington (African-American educator, author and orator).

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"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed."

 

"Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."

 

  1. Chinua Achebe (Nigerian novelist, poet and professor).

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"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."

 

  1. Wole Soyinka (Nigerian writer, poet and playwright).

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“I believe that the best learning process of any kind of craft is just to look at the work of others.”

 

“My horizon on humanity is enlarged by reading the writers of poems, seeing a painting, listening to some music, some opera, which has nothing at all to do with a volatile human condition or struggle or whatever. It enriches me as a human being.”

 

  1. Alex Haley (African-American Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Roots").

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"In my writing, as much as I could, I tried to find the good, and praise it"

 

"Beginning writers must appreciate the prerequisites if they hope to become writers. You pay your dues - which takes years."

 

"Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help."

 

  1. Audre Lorde (Caribbean-American poet and author).

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“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

 

  1. Malidoma Patrice Somé (West African writer born in Dano, Burkina Faso).

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"As long as we are not ourselves, we will try to be what other people are."

 

  1. Rita Dove (African-American poet and author).

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“There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.”

 

  1. James Baldwin (African-American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet and social critic).

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"Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced."

 

  1. Marilyn Nelson (African-American poet, translator and children's book author).

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"Miracles happen all the time. We're here, aren't we?"

 

  1. Sojourner Truth (African American human rights activist and poet).

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“We do as much, we eat as much, we want as much.”

 

"It is the mind that makes the body."

 

  1. Marcus Garvey (Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur and orator).

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"Go to work! 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."

 

  1. Katherine Dunham (African-American dancer, choreographer, author, educator and social activist).

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"I used to want the words "She tried" on my tombstone. Now I want "She did it."

Happy Black History Month!

Read Also 15 Timeless Pieces of Advice and Inspiration About Writing.

 

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