22 Quotes from Famous Black Authors

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February is celebrated as Black History Month in the United States to recognize and honor African Americans’ contributions, accomplishments, and history.

Literature has played an important role throughout history, and many renowned black authors have contributed to the literary world with their novels, poetry, and more.

This article is dedicated to all the incredible black authors who made the reading community happy with their words. I have shared 22 famous black author quotes and also their meanings.

Scroll through the post to read beautiful quotes by the authors!

22 Famous Black Author Quotes

Have a look at the 22 quotes from the authors! I have also provided the meanings.

“The only way to deal with this life meaningfully is to find your passion, then put everything you have into it.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The quote is like a roadmap to a fulfilling life. You must discover what you truly love and care about, i.e., your passion.

Once you find it, give it your all and put in all your energy and effort. When you do what you’re passionate about, life becomes more meaningful because you’re doing what you love.

It’s like turning a job into a joy. So, this quote encourages us to chase our dreams, be it in our careers, hobbies, or relationships, because that’s the path to a truly meaningful life.

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

Toni Morrison

It highlights the beauty of anonymity and the freedom found in living beyond the spotlight. It means that those who go unnoticed by society, those not written about in newspapers, often have more freedom.

They live in the spaces where no one is looking, between the stories that grab headlines. In these overlooked places, people can be themselves without the judgments or expectations of others.

They have the liberty to define their own lives and identities. Morrison’s words remind us that there is strength and liberation in living outside the glare of society’s gaze, in those blank spaces where we can truly be ourselves.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote conveys a powerful message about morality and responsibility. It means there is never a wrong time to do what is just and ethical.

Regardless of the circumstances or pressures, we should always strive to make the right choices and take a stand for what is fair and good.

This quote encourages us to act with integrity and not delay doing what is right, as we must uphold principles of justice and kindness at all times, no matter when or where we find ourselves.

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

-Maya Angelou

It means that while we cannot always prevent difficult or challenging things from happening, we can choose how we respond to them. 

Instead of letting hardships define or weaken us, we can decide to rise above them, learn from them, and grow stronger. 

This quote encourages us to embrace our inner fortitude and not let life’s obstacles diminish our spirit, reminding us that we have the ability to triumph over adversity.

“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves.”

Audre Lorde

The quote carries a powerful message of empowerment and advocacy. It means that Lorde uses her writing to speak up and stand for the women who have been silenced, often out of fear or societal pressure.

She believes that fear should not be given more importance than our own voices and rights.

It encourages everyone to challenge fear, find their voice, and fight for their own and others’ rights and dignity, especially those oppressed or silenced.

“The power to define the situation is the ultimate power.”

Amiri Baraka

It means that the ability to shape how we see and understand a situation gives us tremendous influence and control. When we define a situation, we determine how it’s perceived and what actions should follow. 

This quote reminds us that whoever holds the authority to describe or interpret something holds great power over it. It urges us to be aware of this power and use it wisely, as it can shape our reality and the outcomes of various situations in our lives.

“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”

Shirley Chisholm

It conveys a clear message about taking action and making a difference. It means that if you want positive changes in your life or the world, simply complaining or feeling sorry for yourself won’t help you achieve anything. 

Progress comes when you put forward your ideas and work on turning them into reality. 

Chisholm encourages us to be proactive, take responsibility, and actively contribute to solutions rather than just talking about problems. It’s a call to be a doer, not just a complainer.

“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.”

Booker T. Washington

It means that true success isn’t just about how high you’ve climbed in life, like your job or status. It’s more about the challenges and difficulties you’ve faced and conquered along the way. 

This quote highlights the value of resilience and determination in achieving success. 

It encourages us to take pride in the strength we’ve shown in overcoming obstacles, recognizing that our ability to endure and thrive in the face of adversity is a significant measure of our accomplishments.

“Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.”

James Baldwin

Every person inherently deserves respect, dignity, and recognition, as symbolized by the metaphorical “crown.” This quote encourages individuals to embrace the value acquired through life experiences and struggles. 

It urges them not to shy away from acknowledging their worth but to proudly wear their metaphorical crown, symbolizing self-confidence and self-respect. 

Baldwin’s words inspire individuals to recognize their own importance and to carry themselves with the dignity and self-assurance they rightfully deserve.

“I am my best work – a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.”

Audre Lorde

Our true essence and value lie in the unique collection of experiences, knowledge, creativity, and emotions that make up our lives. Like a diverse assortment of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers, these aspects define who we are. 

This quote celebrates the beauty of our individuality and the richness of our life’s journey. 

It reminds us that we are constantly evolving and that our story, with all its varied facets, is a masterpiece in progress, reflecting the beautiful complexity of our existence.

“Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. They claim it as their own and none can keep it from them.”

Kwame Nkrumah

True freedom isn’t something one group of people can give to another like a present. Instead, it’s something individuals and communities must demand and seize for themselves. 

Once people recognize their right to be free, no one can take it away from them. This quote supports the idea that freedom is an inherent human right, emphasizing that it’s up to individuals to assert and protect it, as no one else can truly grant or deny it.

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Zora Neale Hurston

When people endure suffering in silence, those in power may continue to harm them without consequence. They may even distort the truth, suggesting that the victim consented or found pleasure in their suffering. 

This quote urges individuals not to remain silent in the face of mistreatment. 

It emphasizes the importance of voicing one’s pain and standing up against cruelty, ensuring that the truth is known and that injustices are exposed and confronted.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Alice Walker

Individuals unintentionally relinquish their ability to influence their lives and circumstances simply by underestimating their own capabilities. 

When people doubt their power, they become passive and hesitant, allowing others or external factors to take control. 

This quote encourages us to recognize that we all possess strength and potential. 

It serves as a reminder that by believing in ourselves and our capacity to effect change, we unlock our true power and become active agents in shaping our destinies, refusing to surrender control to self-doubt or external forces.

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

Thurgood Marshall

When we acknowledge and honor the dignity and worth of others, we actually honor and enrich ourselves in the process. 

By showing compassion, respect, and understanding to our fellow human beings, we elevate our own character and sense of morality. 

This quote highlights the idea that recognizing the humanity in others is not only a kind and just act but also a way to nurture our own sense of empathy, compassion, and moral integrity.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

Holding back your stories and feelings can be incredibly painful. Keeping something important locked inside becomes a heavy burden, causing inner turmoil and distress. 

This quote encourages us to share our stories, whether they are happy or painful because in doing so, we release the burden and find relief. 

It emphasizes the healing power of self-expression and the importance of letting our experiences be known, connecting with others, and finding solace in the act of sharing.

“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts — good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt.”

Oprah Winfrey

It advises us to be selective in the company we keep, encouraging us to avoid those who bring negativity and burden into our lives. 

Instead, it urges us to trust our inner feelings and instincts; when a relationship is positive and right for us, it should make us feel good and supported, not hurt or drained. 

This quote underscores the importance of surrounding ourselves with individuals who uplift, respect, and cherish us, fostering relationships that bring joy and well-being.

“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”

B.B. King

It means that once we acquire understanding and skills through learning, they become a part of us forever, and no one can deprive us of that treasure. 

This quote celebrates the empowerment that comes from education and the assurance that, regardless of life’s challenges or changes, the wisdom and insights we gain are permanently ours. 

It highlights the priceless nature of learning, how it enriches our lives, enhances our perspectives, and equips us to face the world with resilience and confidence.

“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.”

Booker T. Washington

Success isn’t solely about the high status or achievements we attain but, more importantly, about the difficulties and challenges we’ve conquered along our journey.

This quote emphasizes the value of resilience, determination, and personal growth in defining success. 

It inspires us to view obstacles not as setbacks but as stepping stones to becoming stronger and more accomplished individuals, highlighting that our ability to overcome adversity is the ultimate measure of our achievements.

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”

Angela Davis

The struggle for freedom and justice isn’t only about transforming external societal structures; it’s also about freeing our minds from prejudices and biases. 

True liberation involves breaking mental chains that limit our thinking and perceptions. 

This quote implies the need for both personal and societal transformation, acknowledging that how we think and perceive the world profoundly affects our actions and the broader social landscape. 

It calls for a holistic approach to creating an equitable society that values intellectual and societal liberation as essential components of lasting change.

“The world is yours to shape. You can make a difference, if you dare.”

Keshia Chante

It means that each person has the ability to influence and change the world around them. It’s an invitation to seize opportunities and take action, even if it involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone. 

This quote inspires individuals to believe in their potential and have the courage to pursue their dreams and ideas. 

It reminds us that we have the power to shape our own destinies and impact the world positively if we dare to take the necessary steps and embrace the challenges that come with it.

“We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right.”

Aretha Franklin

Regardless of gender, race, or any other differences, every person deserves to be treated with dignity and fairness. Respect is not a privilege but a fundamental human entitlement. 

This quote emphasizes that respecting others and being respected is a core element of being human. 

It’s a call for equality and justice, reminding us that respecting one another is not just a choice but an essential right that should be upheld by all in our shared journey.

“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”

W.E.B. Du Bois

Efforts and sacrifices required to attain and protect liberty are far less than the heavy toll of enduring oppression and injustice. 

This quote emphasizes that although fighting for freedom may be challenging and demanding, it pales in comparison to the suffering and limitations imposed by repression. 

It serves as a powerful reminder that the benefits of living in a free society far outweigh the sacrifices and struggles required to achieve and maintain that liberty, underscoring the importance of pursuing and defending our rights and freedoms.


Black History Month symbolizes the right to equality and honors the contributions of black people throughout. 

I hope this article helped you remember the amazing authors and their works. Quotes are a great way to reminisce about writers, their works, and the books’ characters. 

What are your favorite black author quotes?

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