As the world reacts to the murder of George Floyd and the systemic racism that has permeated America since its founding, I can’t help but marvel at the courage and resilience the black community has shown in the face of impossible odds. Odds that, from the start, were stacked against them. I support them in their declaration that black lives matter, and that any suggestion that racism and oppression are over is blindly and dangerously out of touch with reality.

In solidarity with their cause and in admiration of their determination, I share with you 50 inspiring quotes from black entrepreneurs and leaders over the years.

Let their words and advice educate, uplift and inspire you. And if you’d like to donate to the cause, I suggest you check out the following resources:

Spike Lee

« I believe in fate. But I also believe that you can’t just let fate happen. Often, an opportunity can fall into your lap, but you have to be ready to seize it. You can’t just sit back and wait. Often, you have to get out there and make it happen. – Spike Lee

« I had to earn my own living and seize my own opportunity. But I did it! Don’t sit back and wait for opportunities to present themselves. Stand up and seize them. » – Mrs. C.J. Walker

« If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you’re going to get, you’ll become a more successful person. In other words, if you want to make money, you have to help someone else make money. » – Russell Simmons

russell Simons

« I want to stop transforming and start being. – Ursula Burns

« I built a conglomerate and became the richest black man in the world in 2008, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get where I am today. Young people today aspire to be like me, but they want to get there overnight. It won’t work. To build a successful business, you have to start small and dream big. In the adventure of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme ». – Aliko Dangote

« You can and must set your own limits and express them clearly. It takes courage, but it’s also liberating and rewarding, and often earns you new respect. » – Rosalind Brewer

« You are where you are today because you stand on someone’s shoulders. And wherever you’re going, you can’t do it alone. If you’re on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others can be on your shoulders. This is the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily because of what we take, but we live eternally because of what we give. » – Vernon Jordan

« The road home may not be as short as we’d like… But there’s good reason to have confidence in the future. » – Richard Parsons

« There’s nothing a woman can’t do. Men may think they do things on their own, but a woman is always there to guide or help them. » – Marjorie Joyner

« When I was younger, there was something about me. I had a passion. Maybe I didn’t know what I was going to do with that passion, but there was something – and I still feel it. It’s this little engine that roars inside me and I just want to keep going, on and on. » – Sheila Johnson

« Self-love has little to do with how you feel on the outside. It’s about accepting everything you are. » – Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks

« All business is personal… Make friends before you need them. – Robert L. Johnson

« It’s up to you to get the attention of the powerful people around you. They won’t find you on their own. » – Richard Parsons

« Success depends on employees. For me, it’s very important to know my employees and be in touch with them. » – Divine Ndhlukula

« The battles that count are not the ones for gold medals. The inner struggles, the invisible and inevitable battles that go on inside each of us, that’s where it’s all about. » – Jesse Owens

« If there is no struggle, there is no progress. – Frederick Douglass

« It’s not the load that tears you down, it’s the way you carry it. » – Lena Horne

Lena Horne

« Success is measured not so much by the position one has achieved in life as by the obstacles one has overcome in trying to succeed. » – Booker T. Washington

« Winning is great, but if you really want to do something in life, the secret is to learn to lose. No one is undefeated all the time. If you can pick yourself up after a crushing defeat and keep winning, you’ll become a champion one day. » – Wilma Rudolph

« If you have the competitive spirit, you don’t let go of it. You never stop. You’re always looking over your shoulder. – Magic Johnson

« Never give up on what you’re trying to do. Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. » – Ella Fitzgerald

« No action is too small when it comes to changing the world… I am inspired every time I meet an entrepreneur who is succeeding against all odds. » – Cyril Ramaphosa

« If we want to be part of the solution, we have to tackle the problems. – Majora Carter

« The impatient idealist says: ‘Give me a place to stand and I’ll move the earth’. But there is no such place. We must all stand on the earth itself and go with it at its pace. » – Chinua Achebe

« Change will not come if we wait for another person or another time. We are the ones we are waiting for. We are the change we seek. – Barack Obama

« Don’t let anyone convince you that your dream, your vision of becoming an entrepreneur, is something you shouldn’t do. What often happens is that well-meaning people, who really care about us, are afraid for us and talk us out of it. » – Cathy Hughes

« Every great dream begins with a dreamer. – Harriet Tubman

« Have a vision. Be demanding. » – Colin Powell

Lena Horne 1

« Five days a week, I read my goals before I go to sleep and when I wake up. There are ten goals concerning health, family and business, with expiration dates, and I update them every six months. » – Daymond John

The harder you work, the luckier you get » – Mike Adenuga

« I always wanted to be somebody. If I made it, it was half because I was brave 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

« Dedicate yourself to a set of core values. Without them, you’ll never find personal fulfillment, and you’ll never be able to lead effectively. » – Kenneth Chenault

« Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide. – Marva Collins

Marva Collins

« Never let yourself be limited by the limited imagination of others. – Mae Jemison

« I’m hungry for knowledge. It’s about learning every day, becoming brighter and brighter. That’s what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King shone. Muhammad Ali shines. I think it’s because we’re always shining and trying to be. » – Will Smith

« Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives. – Michelle Obama

« Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what you’re passionate about. » – Oprah Winfrey

« If you have a dream and a job, that’s great! That’s great! You can learn to navigate between the two. Your employer, or as I like to call it your « investor, » gives you the money to invest in your dream, and pay your bills while you pursue your dreams. » – Lisa Nichols

« If you solicit 100 people for start-up capital, 99 of them may say no, you only need one. – William Pickard

William Pickard

« Many of us stay up until 2am watching stuff on Netflix, but you get out of work at 6am. So what could you do from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. to prove that this business is worthwhile? » – Candice Matthews Brackeen

« You can’t be both a hero and a victim. – Derek T. Dingle

« To be successful in your career, you have to approach it like an entrepreneur, even if you work for someone else. Your career is your own business. You must market yourself, your skills and your knowledge as you would a product or service. – Earl G. Graves Sr

« It’s a fact that progress is almost exclusively generated by people. If you’re not sensitive to the needs of the people in your organization or with whom you have to deal, you won’t be effective. » – Reginald F. Lewis

« You may encounter many defeats, but you mustn’t let them get you down. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so that you can know who you are, what you can get up from, how you can still get through. » – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou 1

« Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. – Cicely Tyson

« Accept and recognize your own genius. Stop waiting for others to tell you how great you are! Believe it for yourself and about yourself. » – Iyanla Vanzant

« Whenever I feel down, I use that feeling to motivate me to work harder. I only give myself one day to feel sorry for myself. When I’m not feeling my best, I ask myself what I’m going to do about it. I use negativity to transform myself into a better me ». – Beyoncé

« Discipline is not a dirty word. There’s a lot more freedom and opportunity for creativity and success in enjoying discipline. Years ago, someone I greatly respect told me that the reason for his success was that he was willing to do what others refuse or are reluctant to do. » – Janice Bryant Howroyd

Also read our article: Rosa Parks

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