Happy Black History Month! Today, we want to take a look at some of the wisdom that has come from black women in particular. Their words of empowerment, even under the weight of extreme scrutiny, racism and sexism, serve to inspire. And in today’s world, who couldn’t use a little inspiration to do the right thing—especially in a day and age of potential cultural regression?
If these words move you, know that you can get any of them in print form from AllPosters.com.
Rosa Parks started one of the largest organized movements against segregation by refusing to give up a seat at the front of the bus. While today we look at her with admiration, she had her contemporary critics.
“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me being old then. I was forty-two. The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
Soon to take the place of Andrew Jackson on the face of our $20 bills, Harriet Tubman was a woman of true commitment and bravery. She believed that freedom was such a fundamental right that she not only escaped slavery herself, but also helped countless others do so while working on the Underground Railroad.
What strikes us about her quote is her inclusion of patience—a trait that can be difficult to muster when you know what you’re fighting for is right.
“Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Maya Angelou experienced all kinds of abuse early on in her life. She also experienced love, and she chose to live her life according to the latter, refusing to become a victim, and bringing that same resolution to the masses through her powerful poetry. Her stance was not to ignore the bad parts of life, but rather to be stronger than them.
“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
Sojourner Truth may have been the first intersectional feminist in this country. Living through the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, she played a large part in speaking out against the injustices of slavery, and also about the injustices women experienced. The two were not very different in her eyes, and, in many cases, she saw her plight as worse off not only because she was black, but because she was female on top of it. She took to traveling to spread her message far and wide.
“Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted. And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well—And ain’t I a woman?”