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February 2014

Oxford celebrates Black History Month with an array of notable quotations from some of history's most prominent African Americans. All quotations within Oxford Essential Quotations are freely accessible to global users, as part of Oxford Reference's uniquely robust free content strategy.


  1. "Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it."
             of her refusal, on 1 December 1955, to surrender her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama to a white man
    - Rosa Parks (1913-2005) Quiet Strength (1994)

  3. When I look out at this convention, I see the face of America, red, yellow, brown, black, and white. We are all precious in God's sight—the real rainbow coalition.
    speech at Democratic National Convention, Atlanta, 19 July 1988
    Jesse Jackson (1941-    ) 

  5. While we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: yes we can.
    speech on winning the Presidency, Chicago, 4 November 2008
    Barack Obama (1961-    ) 

  7. You may not control all the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them..
    found earlier attributed in the form ‘I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it’
    Maya Angelou (1928-    ) 

  9. I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.
    How It Feels to Be Colored Me (1928)
    Zora Neale Hurston (1901 - 1960) 

  11. One thing alone I charge you. As you live, believe in life!.
    last message, written 26 June, 1957, and read at his funeral, 1963
    W. E. B. Du Bois (1868 - 1963) 

  13. At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough.
    Tar Baby (1981
    Toni Morrison (1818 - 1895) 

  15. No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
    speech at Civil Rights Mass Meeting, Washington, DC, 22 October 1883
    Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) 

  17. There were two things I had a right to, liberty and death. If I could not have one, I would have the other, for no man should take me alive.
    Harriet, the Moses of Her People (1869)
    Harriet Tubman (1820–1913) 

  19. Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
    in 1967; in Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. (1999)
    Martin Luther King (1929–1968)


Freely Available Entries Through Black History Month

W.E.B DuBois
Rosa Parks
Jesse Jackson
Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Malcolm X
Civil Rights Movement
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Ray Charles

Brown V. Board of Education
Howard University
John Mercer Langston
Judith Jamison
Richard Wright
James Baldwin
Harlem Renaissance
African American Sororities, University, and College
African American Fraternities, University, and College