Top 100 Inspirational Graduation Quotes by Notable Black Figures (great for graduation photo captions)
- Nothing will work unless you do.
– Maya Angelou
- If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, then make that change.
– Michael Jackson
- The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.
– James Baldwin
- 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.
– Barack Obama
- Don't follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength, and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!
– Ruby Bridges
- You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.
– Serena Williams
- Everything negative - pressure, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise.
– Kobe Bryant
- I refused to take no for an answer.
– Bessie Coleman
- Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
– Malcolm X
- Always keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling bad or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.
– Hank Aaron
- He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
– Muhammad Ali
- When you stop having dreams and ideals - well, you might as well stop altogether.
– Marian Anderson
- Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
– Arthur Ashe
- Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
– James Baldwin
- Presumption should never make us neglect that which appears easy to us, nor despair make us lose courage at the sight of difficulties.
– Benjamin Banneker
- Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.
– Mary McLeod Bethune
- I chased my dreams. In the end, find what gets you excited and chase it.
- Let us keep the dance of rain our fathers kept and tread our dreams beneath the jungle sky.
– Arna Bontemps
- Intemperance and intolerance serve no one and hatred guarantees failure.
– Edward Brooke
- Art hurts. Art urges voyages - and it is easier to stay at home.
– Gwendolyn Brooks
- You can surmount the obstacles in your path if you are determined, courageous and hard-working. Never be faint-hearted. Be resolute, but never bitter.
– Ralph Bunche
- When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.
– George Washington Carver
- If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.
– Shirley Chisholm
- I only debate my equals. All others, I teach.
– John Henrik Clarke
- There is no boy, at this age, cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting an education, If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the President of the United States.
– Michelle Obama
- Strive to make something of yourself, then strive to make the most of yourself.
– Alexander Crummell
- Man dreams that he is more than a leaf on a tree.
– Countee Cullen
- Our elevation must be the result of self-efforts and work of our own hands. No other human power can accomplish it. If we but determine it shall be so, it will be so.
– Martin R. Delany
- We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.
– Stevie Wonder
- It's a long old road, but I know I'm gonna find the end.
– Bessie Smith
- You can't just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You've got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.
– Diana Ross
- Believe in yourself and have confidence that you can compete against all odds. Have a vision of what you'd like to accomplish and be able to articulate that vision.
– Robert Johnson
- Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
– Jimi Hendrix
- A problem is a chance for you to do your best.
– Duke Ellington
- Do not fear mistakes. There are none.
– Miles Davis
- I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great.
– Ray Charles
- I don't want the bottom, so I have to sacrifice the top.
– Chuck Berry
- These children and their parents know that getting an education is not only their right, but a passport to a better future - for the children and for the country.
– Harry Belafonte
- Everything is habit-forming, so make sure what you do is what you want to be doing.
– Wilt Chamberlain
- Being champion is all well and good, but you can't eat a crown.
– Althea Gibson
- All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.
– Magic Johnson
- Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind.
– Jackie Joyner-Kersee
- Within our dreams and aspirations, we find our opportunities.
– Sugar Ray Leonard
- We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.
– Jesse Owens
- A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
– Jackie Robinson
- You can always become better.
– Tiger Woods
- When I discover who I am, I'll be free.
– Ralph Ellison
- Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.
– Alex Haley
- Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.
– Lorraine Hansberry
- Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
– Langston Hughes
- There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
– Zora Neale Hurston
- If there is a book that you want to read, but hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.
– Toni Morrison
- The knowledge I have now is not the knowledge I had then.
– Stokely Carmichael
- To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.
– W.E.B. DuBois
- You can kill a man but you can't kill an idea.
– Medgar Evers
- Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences.
– Marcus Garvey
- 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.
- Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.
– Rosa Parks
- You have to be prepared to die before you can be prepared to live.
– Fred Shuttlesworth
- The best way to guarantee a loss is to quit.
– Morgan Freeman
- The advice I would give to someone is to not take anyone's advice.
– Eddie Murphy
- To simply wake up every morning a better person than when I went to bed.
– Sidney Poitier
- You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That's a part of it.
– Denzel Washington
- Never limit yourself because of other’s limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.
– Mae Jemison
- I have had one goal in my life, that of playing some role in making life a little easier for the persons who come after me.
– Percy Lavon Julian
- We have a powerful potential in out youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.
– Mary McLeod Bethune
- The only difference between a hero and the villain is that the villain chooses to use that power in a way that is selfish and hurts other people.
– Chadwick Boseman
- Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.
– Madame C.J. Walker
- If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.
– Jesse Jackson
- Don't let people disrespect you. My mom says don't open the door to the devil. Surround yourself with positive people.
– Cuba Gooding Jr.
- There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
– Colin Powell
- Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.
– Clarence Thomas
- In order to be the best version of yourself, you have to dedicate time, effort, and support to other people who need it.
– Laurence Fishburne
- I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.
– Jean-Michel Basquiat
- If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
– Frederick Douglass
- You learn more in failure than you ever do in success.
– Jay Z
- Like what you do, and then you will do your best.
– Katherine Johnson
- Every day, my daddy told me the same thing. 'Once a task is just begun, never leave it till it's done. Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all.'
– Quincy Jones
- The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.
– Gordon Sparks
- Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
– Harriet Tubman
- If you look at how long the Earth has been here, we're living in the blink of an eye. So, whatever it is you want to do, you go out and do it.
– Jamie Foxx
- Do not live someone else's life and someone else's idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you. Womanhood is everything that's inside of you.
– Viola Davis
- We're here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.
– Whoopi Goldberg
- Never dull your shine for somebody else.
– Tyra Banks
- You can fool people. You can fool anybody any time of the day, but you can't fool yourself. At night, when you go home, you've got to be straight up with you.
– Whitney Houston
- If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.
- Success is the sweetest revenge.
– Vanessa Williams
- Successful people don't have fewer problems. They have determined that nothing will stop them from going forward.
– Benjamin Carson
- You have to be able to accept failure to get better.
– LeBron James
- Get up. Stand up. Speak up. Do something.
– Tamara Burke
- Never let someone tell you you're too small or too slow.
– Chris Paul
- It's okay to fail; it's not okay to quit.
– Christopher Paul Gardner
- If your dream is only about you, it's too small.
– Ava DuVernay
- Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.
– Michelle Obama
- If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.
– Bishop T.D. Jakes
- Bottom line: if you show a genuine interest in learning about how others became successful, you can open up a world of opportunities.
– Armstrong Williams
- You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.
– Rosalind Brewer
- I know that in life there will be sickness, devastation, disappointments, heartache - it's a given. What's not a given is the way you choose to get through it all. If you look hard enough, you can always find the bright side.
– Rashida Jones
- The easy thing to do is to keep doing what’s always been done, but challenging the status quo can show you things you didn’t know were possible.
– Alicia Boler Davis
- Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.
– Ella Fitzgerald