67 Inspiring Quotes by Black Women on Happiness, Perseverance, Fear and Success

If you follow me on Twitter @happyblackwoman, then you know how much I love sharing inspirational quotes to uplift and encourage others in their journey. As a centering exercise, I meditate on at least one quote each morning to get me started on my day. The only challenge I run into is that most of the “famous” quotes are typically from white men (though still useful) and it’s always been much harder to come across quotes from women in general, let alone black women. So I challenged myself to come up with as many as I could find to share with you and here they are – a list of 67 inspiring quotes by black women. Please use them in your own journey and share this post with as many people as you can on Twitter and Facebook!

Happiness

  • “I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black: it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.” – June Jordan
  • “Life is short, and it’s up to you to make it sweet.” – Sadie Delany
  • “Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” – Carol Moseley-Braun
  • “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. ” – Audre Lorde
  • “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” – Zora Neale Hurston
  • “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou
  • “I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance. ” – bell hooks
  • “Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” – Alice Walker
  • ‎”Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • ‎”In every crisis there is a message. Crises are nature’s way of forcing change — breaking down old structures, shaking loose negative habits so that something new and better can take their place.” — Susan L. Taylor
  • “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow. ” – Alice Walker
  • “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne
  • “All the money in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have time to enjoy it.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of respect, and make everyone else deal with you the same way. ” – Nikki Giovanni
  • “Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.” – Marva Collins
  • “I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “I think there are things for all of us to do as long as we’re here and we’re healthy.” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “If you don’t understand yourself you don’t understand anybody else.” – Nikki Giovanni
  • “A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.” – Pearl Bailey
  • “Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker
  • “Self-esteem means knowing you are the dream.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free . . . your true self comes out.” — Tina Turner
  • “Take responsibility for yourself because no one’s going to take responsibility for you. I’m not a victim. I grow from this and I learn.” – Tyra Banks
  • “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “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.” – Nikki Giovanni
  • “The times may have changed, but the people are still the same. We’re still looking for love, and that will always be our struggle as human beings.” – Halle Berry
  • ‎”Once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, can feel joy, then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy.” – Audre Lorde
  • “Whatever someone did to you in the past has no power over the present. Only you give it power.” — Oprah Winfrey

Perseverance

  • “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” – Wilma Rudolph
  • “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou
  • “I didn’t have anybody, really, no foundation in life, so I had to make my own way. Always, from the start. I had to go out in the world and become strong, to discover my mission in life.” – Tina Turner
  • “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “It’s time for you to move, realizing that the thing you are seeking is also seeking you.” – Iyanla Vanzant
  • “You are on the eve of a complete victory. You can’t go wrong. The world is behind you.” – Josephine Baker
  • “You can fall, but you can rise also.” – Angelique Kidjo
  • “You will be wounded many times in your life. You’ll make mistakes. Some people will call them failures but I have learned that failure is really God’s way of saying, “Excuse me, you’re moving in the wrong direction.” It’s just an experience, just an experience.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.” – Wilma Rudolph
  • “We will be ourselves and free, or die in the attempt. Harriet Tubman was not our great-grandmother for nothing.” – Alice Walker
  • “It’s a long old road, but I know I’m gonna find the end.” – Bessie Smith
  • “‘I can’t’ are two words that have never been in my vocabulary. I believe in me more than anything in this world.” – Wilma Rudolph
  • “Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you…yet, someone survived…You can do anything you choose to do.” – Maya Angelou
  • “You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.” – Marian Wright Edelman

Fear

  • “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. ” – Audre Lorde
  • “Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman.” – Marian Anderson
  • “African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.” – Wangari Maathai
  • ‎”When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African Proverb
  • “Whatever you fear most has no power – it is your fear that has the power. The thing itself cannot touch you. But if you allow your fear to seep into your mind and overtake your thoughts, it will rob you of your life.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.” — bell hooks
  • “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” – Maya Angelou
  • “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

Success

  • “I used to want the words ‘She tried’ on my tombstone. Now I want ‘She did it.'” – Katherine Dunham
  • “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” – Marian Wright Edelman
  • “Success doesn’t come to you…you go to it.” – Marva Collins
  • “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” — Oprah Winfrey
  • “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.” – Madam C.J. Walker
  • “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph
  • “The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” – Lorraine Hansberry
  • “You are the designer of your destiny; you are the author of your story.” — Lisa Nichols
  • “Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.” – Susan L. Taylor
  • “It isn’t where you come from; it’s where you’re going that counts.” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich, and rich is better.” – Bessie Smith
  • “I always wanted to be somebody. If I made it, it’s half because I was game enough to take a lot of punishment along the way and half because there were a lot of people who cared enough to help me.” – Althea Gibson
  • “Keep working hard and you can get anything that you want. If God gave you the talent, you should go for it. But don’t think it’s going to be easy. It’s hard!” – Aaliyah
  • “Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou
  • “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” – Maya Angelou
  • “We are all gifted. That is our inheritance.” – Ethel Waters
  • “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou
Sources:

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Comments & Feedback:

  1. Gilda Ambrose Oubre

    I am so glad to have found this. I have been through a lot and I know that my Heavenly Father is watching over me from above. Reading these wonderful quotes, tells me that everything is going to be alright as long as I, myself have that courage, strength and endurance to accomplish what I want. So thank you for this.We as Black Women are strong but, we are still human.

    God Bless

  2. Emprezz Nia

    I am a young black girl wendy who believes that God will move mountains out ma way bit in order for this to happen amma have to stand and take ma rightful place. I love these quotes and they remind every day that am destined to greatness. Thank you

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  4. Wow, I needed about 15 of these quotes! I was down tonight and ready to throw in my towel. After reading some of the quotes, I tighted a knot in it and going to hang on a little while longer.

  5. Bibi

    Yes! Def needed this! Have bookmarked for later. I’m currently at a phase in my life where I feel like I’m not sure what I’m doing and where I’m going.

    Can’t wait for it to be over though cos how else will I know when I get to my destination if I don’t know where I’m going?

  6. awesome piece of information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend vimal, mumbai,i have read atleast 13 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your blog gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i’m already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a million once again, Regards, quotes of life

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  8. Mrs. E

    My Personal Mantra is – “Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.”

    My theme song is – Shut up by Ledisi

    My notebook is a basic theme tablet that will be filled in no time. Lol