February is marked as the Black History Month to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans. Black History Month was first observed in 1976 by then-President Gerald Ford, following which every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as the Black History Month. 

In recognition of  Black History Month, below are 20 inspiring quotes from black leaders and prominent African-Americans:

1. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. ... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” — Martin Luther King

2. "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

black history month Former President Barack Obama stands beside a bell to be rung by members of Martin Luther King Jr.'s family during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and "I Have A Dream" speech, Aug. 28, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed

3. "Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise." — Maya Angelou

4. “One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” — Franklin Thomas

5. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” — Frederick Douglass

6. “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” — Coretta Scott King

 7. “Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.”
 — Carol Moseley Braun

8. “We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” — Carter Woodson

9. “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” — Oprah Winfrey

10. "The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us - that's where it's at." — Jesse Owens

11. “For I am my mother's daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart.” — Mary McLeod Bethune

12. “Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it and use it as a foundation to grow.” — Jay Z

13. “Take all the rules away. How can we live if we don’t change?” — Beyoncé

14. “History has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” — Michelle Obama

15. “Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” — Ella Fitzgerald

16. "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." — Thurgood Marshall, first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court

17. "Have a vision. Be demanding."
 — Colin Powell, the first African American appointed as the U.S. Secretary of State

18. "Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations."— Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut

19. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." — Booker T. Washington

20. "Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." — Zora Neale Hurston