The power of black women is undeniable, and we stay killing it in whatever we choose to pursue. When we unite to advocate for one another, we build communities that not only thrive but forge strong and successful futures for generations. Here's where black feminism comes in. Its impact can be seen in the legacies of so many powerful women who have positively affected legislation, shifted the perception of what a black woman is, and made room for all of us to expand, flourish, and blossom into our own.
Many have impacted us all with their art, work, and push for women's equality and freedom. Be inspired by 14 black feminist quotes from the legends, on career advancement, entrepreneurship, leadership and much more:
Florynce Kennedy, Lawyer, Activist and Lecturer: On Self-Confidence
"I focus on myself. I'm the most important person in my life. I love me better than anybody loves me. I take such good care of me. I don't need any other person. ... I really really think I'm great. I cannot walk, I cannot stand up, I wobble, I fall down, I do everything, but I'd still rather be me than just about anybody."—1985 Diane Abrams interview
Shirley Chisholm, Educator and Politician: On Taking Initiative
"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas."
—"UnBought and Unbossed" presidential campaign speech
Alice Walker, Author and Lecturer: On Conscious Planning
"Keep in mind always the present you are constructing. It should be the future you want."
—The Temple of My Familiar
Kathryn Finney, Tech Entrepreneur and Speaker: On Paving Your Own Lane
"You can only punch a wall for so long before you either break your hand or the wall. At digitalundivided, we decided to stop punching the wall, buy a chainsaw, and make our own door."
—2016 Model View Culture interview.
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author and Speaker: On People-Pleasing
"Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don't do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are."
—2015 Wellesley College commencement speech
Bell Hooks, Author and Activist: On Self-Awareness
"If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency."
—Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
Audre Lorde, Author: On Self-Care
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
—A Burst of Light
Angela Davis, Lecturer and Activist: On Optimism
"I don't think we have any alternative other than remaining optimistic. Optimism is an absolute necessity, even if it's only optimism of the will, as Gramsci said, and pessimism of the intellect."
—Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
Roxane Gay, Author and Speaker: On Service
"We must stop pointing to the exceptions—these bright shining stars who transcend circumstance. We must look to how we can best support the least among us, not spend all our time blindly revering and trying to mimic the greatest without demanding systemic change."
Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Activist and Author: On Doing What You Love
"You have to get to a point where you do what you enjoy. And also, it helps you to understand that you have talents that you came here with and you can build on all of them and you don't have to be hooked into one skill because of an education system that doesn't understand education."
—1973 WNED's "Woman" interview
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Janelle Monae, Actress, Musician and Activist: On Pushing Past Norms
"I don't think we all have to take the same coordinates to reach the same destination. I believe in embracing what makes you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable. I have learned there is power in saying no. I have agency. I get to decide."
—2017 Marie Claire interview
Toni Morrison, Author and Lecturer: On the Importance of Sponsorship
"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.' "
—2003 O Magazine Interview
Brittney Copper, Author: On the True Source of Power
"Power is not attained from books and seminars. Not alone, anyway. Power is conferred by social systems. Empowerment and power are not the same thing. We must quit mistaking the two. Better yet, we must quit settling for one when what we really need is the other."
—Eloquent Rage: A Black Woman Discovers Her Superpower
Ntozake Shange, Poet, Author, and Playwright: On the Power of Reading
"Read as much as you can, as many different kinds of books on different subjects as you can. Read everything you can get in your hands. Keep feeding your soul with words of other people so you can see all the different kinds of things that can be done with words and experience it yourself."
—2013 Black Enterprise interview
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