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Spotlight on Walden // Feb 20, 2015

Life Lessons and Inspiration: Words of Black History Figures, Past and Present

Each year in February, the rich history of African-American accomplishments is celebrated. To commemorate Black History Month 2015: A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture, we asked Walden’s faculty to share words of inspiration from black history figures who have influenced their lives—and they enthusiastically answered the call! Read our compilation of inspirational and uplifting words from black history makers and icons, past and present.

  • “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 (1928–2014)
    Poet, memoirist, actress, educator
    Submitted by Dr. John Stachel, School of Information Systems and Technology
  • “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class—it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”
    —Anna Julia Cooper (1858–1964)
    Educator, author
    Submitted by Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon, School of Counseling and School of Social Work and Human Services
  • “Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.”
    —William Lloyd Garrison (1805–1879)
    Journalist, abolitionist, suffragist
    Submitted by Dr. Debbey Thomas, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership
  • “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
    —Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960)
    Author, anthropologist
    Submitted by Dr. Mary Beth Crum, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership
  • “Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations.”
    —Dr. Mae Jemison, (1956– )
    Physician, NASA astronaut, first African-American woman to travel into space
    Submitted by Dr. Lori K. LaCivita, School of Psychology, and Dr. Mary Beth Crum
  • “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
    —Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968)
    Civil rights activist
    Submitted by Dr. Christy McMahon, School of Health Sciences
  • “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 (1934–1992)
    Writer, civil and gay rights activist
    Submitted by Dr. Jenelle Pitt, School of Counseling; Dr. Mary Beth Crum; and Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon
  • “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
    —Nelson Mandela (1918–2013)
    Activist, revolutionary, philanthropist
    Submitted by Dr. Judith Blakely, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership
  • “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”
    —Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993)
    First African-American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court
    Submitted by Dr. Judy Orth, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, and Dr. Mary Beth Crum
  • “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
    —President Barack Obama (1961– )
    First African-American president
    Submitted by Dr. Mary Beth Crum
  • “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 (1940–1994)
    Athlete, Olympic Gold Medalist, first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games
    Submitted by Dr. Kelley Costner, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership; Dr. Mary Beth Crum; and Dr. Judy Orth
  • “Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.”
    —Susan L. Taylor (1946– )
    Journalist, writer, editor
    Submitted by Dr. Mary Beth Crum and Dr. Judy Orth
  • “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”
    —Booker T. Washington (1856–1915)
    Educator, author, orator
    Submitted by Dr. Debbey Thomas
  • “I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.”
    —Oprah Winfrey (1954– )
    Entrepreneur, journalist, actress, philanthropist
    Submitted by Dr. Debbey Thomas

Rediscover the many achievements of African Americans—past or present, famous or not—who inspire us to make a difference now and in the future.