Many black men and women throughout history have used their voices to speak out against racism and inequality in America.
In fact, it’s the ways these activists have used their voices and their platforms that have helped to amplify the black experience, in addition to cementing their own status as legendary figures throughout history. Through their outspoken ways and relentless fight for justice, people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks and Elizabeth Heckford are among some of the most inspiring, honest and revolutionary freedom fighters.
In honor of these five remarkable men and women, we’ve selected profound audio bites from speeches and remarks they have delivered over the years as a way to honor their contributions to America and pay tribute to black history:
There were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies. All the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the State of Alabama saying “we ain’t going to let nobody turn us around!”Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1965
“For us to carry on our nonviolent protest that is not cooperating with an evil system, but protesting nonviolently.”– Rosa Parks, 1975
When I decided that I was going to devote my life primarily to the struggle for the liberation of black people and to the struggle for socialism, I decided at that point, I suppose, that my life belonged to that struggle and to my people.Angela Davis, 1971
I was frightened that morning, but I learned a great deal about people. Not only about the people who were there, but about the people who were not there. Like the politician who encouraged the mob. Like the thousands who suffered with me and wrote to me to tell me so. While I waited I heard brave voices speak out against intolerance and I saw grown men turn their heads in shame from the cameras.Elizabeth Eckford, 1957
Our political philosophy of black nationalism with us only means that we should control the politics and the politicians in the community where we live. And the economic philosophy of black nationalism only means we should control the businesses and create employment opportunities for ourselves. And the social philosophy of black nationalism only means that we should do something to uplift the standards and the level of our own society and put in on par with others.Malcolm X, 1964