Motivational Posters: Black History Month Edition

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 31, 2010 · 53 comments

in A Man's Life, Motivational Posters

Here in the States, February is Black History Month. So we decided to commemorate the month with a special edition of our motivational posters series, featuring some of history’s most influential African-Americans and their powerful words of wisdom. An excellent way to start off your week! Enjoy.

Check out all the motivational posters from AoM: 

Theodore Roosevelt Edition
George S. Patton Edition
Ernest Hemingway Edition
Winston Churchill Edition (Part I)
Winston Churchill Edition (Part II)
Black History Month Edition
Bear Bryant Edition
Founding Fathers Edition
Band of Brothers Edition
Business Posters from the 1920s and 1930s

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica February 1, 2010 at 12:12 am

i love that sidney poitier one! what a handsome man

2 Robert February 1, 2010 at 12:35 am

Amazing. Thank you.

3 Trish Lewis February 1, 2010 at 12:41 am

GREAT post!!

4 Seth Q. February 1, 2010 at 1:04 am

Great post.

If there are guys out there who haven’t read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, I highly recommend doing so. Malcolm X has really been pushed aside by the effort to deify MLK and give him sainthood. While X was a controversial guy, he really changed his perspective on things right before he was assassinated. It’s too bad we couldn’t see what else he would have done. And it when it comes to being morally upright, Malcolm X was far straighter an arrow than the good reverend.

5 Torrey February 1, 2010 at 1:19 am

Great collection and thank you for mentioning Black History Month

6 Michael February 1, 2010 at 2:50 am

Outstanding. Thank you so much.

7 Tyler Logan February 1, 2010 at 3:20 am

Excellent quotes – makes you think.

8 Richard | February 1, 2010 at 4:15 am

Fantastic selection of posters, very inspiring. Loved it!

9 Khürt L Williams February 1, 2010 at 6:32 am

Thank you for posting these. I love the Colin Powel quotes.

10 John February 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

I could have done without the Colin Powell ones….talk about dropping the ball.

The rest of the collection – home run.

11 Shawn February 1, 2010 at 8:23 am

Thanks Brett, never read anything by Malcolm X, but have read much by the good reverend.

12 Billy Yancey February 1, 2010 at 8:39 am

Great words to live by and pass on to our children.

13 Doug Capps February 1, 2010 at 8:57 am

Great Material! The Frederick Douglass quote about building strong children rather than fixing broken men captures so much of the issues of manhood, personal responsibility, and character that challenge us daily. As we go about our everyday life we are role models. The question is; how do we appear through the lens of others?

14 Alex February 1, 2010 at 8:59 am

Seth Q

I was reading some where that if Malcolm X and MLK were not assassinated they would more than likely meet in the middle. MLK was moving more towards violence to a certain degree and Malcolm X was moving more towards non-violence. It would have been interesting to see if they settled on something together.

Great post, it is interesting to think how far back some of those quotes date.

15 Sir Lancelot February 1, 2010 at 9:24 am

Well, I love Powell’s quote on excellence. Perhaps you’re moved by partisanship…?

16 Sir Lancelot February 1, 2010 at 9:29 am

Sorry, that commento was addressed to John…

17 Philip February 1, 2010 at 9:39 am

Thanks for this collection of quotes. There has been a rise is racist rhetoric since the election of Barack Obama. Seeing the latent racism rise to the surface reinforces why it’s pertinent for men to abhor discrimination. These posters, especially the Frederick Douglass one regarding Diginity, make a brilliant counterpoint to those that substitute racial fears for reason and critical thinking.

18 J.N.D. February 1, 2010 at 10:12 am


19 warriorpoet912 February 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

Always enjoy reading the “manvotional” posters and would love to have them. Kudos to you for showing the many faces of Malcolm X, a leader long misunderstood and misrepresented.

20 Shmikey February 1, 2010 at 11:33 am

I am a little disappointed that there are none from Clarence Thomas, which makes me think there is a certain P.C. being projected here. I know that he is not well like by liberals and is considered an Uncle Tom, but he has some wonderfully inspirational quotes in his autobiography. On FAILURE- “Old Man Can’t is dead — I helped bury him,” On DIGNITY “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” Just had to mention it as my only disappointment, the rest as a whole were great.

21 Brucifer February 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I concur that without Malcolm X being the catalyst, ML King wouldn’t have been as accepted as a civil rights leader, much less as hallowed today. The only reason King got as far as he did was the Malcolm X scared the crap outta the white establishment. (that’s why I *love* his manly quote on this post about FORCE, “If you’re a man, you take it!”)

Malcolm X on Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“At one time the whites in the United States called him (King) a racialist, and extremist, and a Communist. Then the Black Muslims came along and the whites thanked the Lord for Martin Luther King.”

“He (King) got the peace prize, we got the problem…. If I’m following a general, and he’s leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.”

No, Malcolm X has never received the credit he deserves. That’s why, every ML King Day, I pull my Malcolm X t-shirt out of the closet and wear it around town. And yeah, I get some *looks* from both blacks and whites.

That said, I think the Fredrick Douglas poster on DIGNITY should be plastered all over the black community. Perhaps then, there would be less shootings and other violence over some fool “disrespectin” another fool.

22 Philip February 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Re: Shmikey

I doubt very much that PC politics or liberalism would prevent Clarence Thomas from being mentioned here. This site in general is about doing away with the PC culture that has whittled away at manliness.

Clarence Thomas may be overlooked, though. I know he was raised by his strict grandfather who made known his expectation that Thomas wasn’t going to fool around with his life and that he was going to be educated so he could get a “coat and tie job”. Obviously it worked to great effect.

23 Osvaldo February 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I don’t believe the exclusion of Clarence Thomas was purposeful. Although, if I had to chose between a martyr who fought for all peoples (Malcolm X) and an African-American who took every advantage of affirmative action and once achieving his top position (replacing another African-American justice—read affirmative action) he decided that affirmative action has run its course and is no longer necessary in our society.

24 Tilly February 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

25 Tilly February 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm

by Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio

26 Shmikey February 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Which is why he detests it so much, because the presumption is that he didn’t earn his way, but affirmative action gave it to him. What a lousy thing to say about a man that did work his way up and proved himself worthy of his position. I understand your presumption here, because that is what it is and having met the man myself and heard him speak passionately on this subject, I think that affirmative action has done a serious disservice to the view of all people of color who have worked hard to achieve their dreams, only to have people assume that it was given to them because of something that they had no choice in. Shame on your promotion of such bigotry. Yes, I know from your link that you are gay and black, so struggle twice as hard with bigotry, but don’t take that out on Justice Thomas because you don’t agree with his conservative views.

27 Shmikey February 1, 2010 at 3:21 pm

all men stand on the shoulders of their ancestors and just because he is who he is by his grandfather’s strict upbringing, doesn’t take away from his wisdom. We are all here trying to gain from those who have gone before us and to carry on the wisdom that they have handed on, so don’t knock a man because he is honest about where his wisdom was gained from.

28 Angelia Sparrow February 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

The Progeny one is especially poignant as Mr. Cosby lost his son a few years ago.

29 Finnian February 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Beautifully done.

@ Brucifer-

The Douglas poster should be plastered all over every community: black, white, yellow, brown, and everything in between. It seems to me that foolishness is colorblind, and the problem with too many men today is a lack of dignity.

30 Jason February 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

The fact that shmikey was disappointed that Thomas was not on here, but makes no mention of the absence of Pres. Obama tells me that he was not surprised by the absence because of the inspiring nature of Thomas’ life or his good quotes, but rather shmikey’s agreement with Thomas’ politics.

I’d like to think that Thomas’ absence from the list is due to Brett being a law student. Any legal scholar who has read Thomas’ opinions-one of the few opinions he’s written because he hardly ever does- knows that his has a very poor legal mind-they are not well-written or too intelligent. His career on the Supreme Court has been lackluster and has removed any doubt that he got where he got not due to his brilliance but due to affirmative action.

31 Hans Hageman February 1, 2010 at 7:05 pm

This is why I love the site and have the banner on my blog and Twitter page!

32 Jared Wise February 1, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I don’t think the omission of Thomas was done for some political reason, he’s just not that impressive of a guy. As a conservative, I agree with Thomas on a lot of stuff, but I’ll admit he’s a pretty mediocre justice. His writing is crummy and he doesn’t have the same high caliber legal intellect like Scalia or Roberts. Seriously, read some of his dissenting opinions. Some of them are absolutely bat shit insane and aren’t even convincing. I think he’s sort of an embarrassment to conservaties. Even Scalia (perhaps one of the more conservative and originalist Justice in SC history) thinks Thomas takes his originalism to insane levels.

I hate to say it, but the only reason Thomas is on the SC is because Bush I needed to replace Marshall with another black Justice and Thomas was an anti-affirmative action black guy.

33 Finnian February 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

“Education is that whole system of human training within and without the school house walls, which molds and develops men.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

34 Tom February 1, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Amazing post and thank you. I’m also glad Thomas wasn’t on here. Yes, I believed Anita Hill. God love her. All of those mentioned on this post, even Bill Cosby, have proven themselves great humanitarians. Mr. Obama received a Nobel PEACE Prize while begging for money to continue to fund the conflicts in the Middle East. Perhaps he will be worthy of mention in the same breath as Dr. King and Malcolm X, when he earns it. Thus far, I don’t think he has. Thanks again Manliness, for mentioning these great men during Black History Month.

35 Kerry Soileau February 1, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Sorry, but the “manly” thing to do here is not to celebrate Black History Month, but to point out that it is racist and beneath the dignity of a real man, black, white or otherwise, to support. I cannot say for sure, but I strongly believe that were MLK alive today, he would call for the abolition of racist government initiatives such as Nation Black History Month.

36 Luis Q February 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Think I’ll read Martin Luther King Jr.’s bio now. Awesome posters Brett!

37 Brett McKay February 1, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Hey Hugo-

Thanks for letting me know about the ad. Here’s the deal. I don’t have much control over which ads are displayed. Google decides that based on 1) the content of webpage and 2) the internet history of readers. It looks like Google adsense saw that there was keywords like “conservative” and “politics” so it delivered what it thought were relevant ads. It might also have something to do with your surfing history because I haven’t seen any ads like you describe and a few other people I’ve talked to haven’t seen them either.

With that said, I can ask google to block certain ads once they appear. What I need for people to do is email me using the contact form (don’t tell me in the comments) what the offending ad is and the url it goes to. Can you get that for me? Again, email me. Comments aren’t for this sort of administrative stuff.

Finally, for future reference, it would be more gentlemanly to not make presumptions and accuse somebody of intentionally “slap[ing] us in the face with one-sided political ads,” when you don’t have all the facts. Also, if you have a complaint, please use the contact form. Comments are for discussion about the post, not for administrative complaints.

Thank you.

38 Sir Lancelot February 2, 2010 at 4:24 am

Kerry, I didn’t want to express my opinion so the political discussion didn’t overshadow the wisdom in these quates, but I tend to agree with you. I find it patronising and self-congratulating. I can almost imagine Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons, band across his chest, pompuosly proclaiming: “…and to make up for slavery, I declare this month Black History Month…”.

39 Hugo Stiglitz February 2, 2010 at 9:22 am


Please accept both my thanks and apologies. I appreciate the explanation of the way ads are generated and now realize that you cannot control what appears. I should have investigated a bit myself before making some of those remarks. In any case, I hope you pardon my outburst. Great job on the site as always.

40 PastorPeter February 2, 2010 at 10:31 am

Love the post! I’m a little sad that it had to be “Black History” as opposed to just recognizing that they are important leaders to “American History,” but one cannot be too picky. Thanks so much!

Also, Thank you Brett for the information on how to respond to problematic adds.

41 Shmikey February 2, 2010 at 10:55 am

Just to clarify that I could care less about Thomas’s legal mind, but am more interested in his history as a man. Just because a person is not the top mind in their profession, makes no difference to their character. He has stood out in my mind as a man who knows how to speak well of others all the while he is being detracted and vilified in a “He said, she said” attack that was aimed to destroy him. This is the real character of a man, in that he showed true humility. He is a good man, plain and simple, not for his mind, but for his character. I am no legal expert, so couldn’t tell you a thing about his decisions, but as a man, he is someone that I highly respect and think that he is someone who is worthy of emulating, that is it.

42 Alex February 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I love the fatherhood quote from Frederich Douglass. Great job as always!

43 Bruce February 2, 2010 at 7:26 pm

These posters are great! The one about “industry” is now my desktop at work.

I’ve shared this posting and while it’s been well-received, I’ve also gotten the question of why no ladies were included in the collection. I assume it’s b/c this site is about men? Though I’ve also gotten the reply that men could be equally inspired by women. Would appreciate your response to this query. Thanks.

44 Carl C February 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm

In the words of Shakespeare, “thanks, thanks and more thanks!”

45 Brett McKay February 3, 2010 at 1:10 am


This site is about men and for men. It looks to celebrate and define true manliness. The men above represent manliness and help us understand how men should be. A woman can inspire a man, of course, but in general men look to other men as mentors and examples.

46 Rosa Parks February 4, 2010 at 1:38 am

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

47 DigitalGentleman February 4, 2010 at 10:44 pm

PastorPeter is so right. These men should be seen as men of stature, not “just” as black men of stature.

48 Brett McKay February 4, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Don’t get so hung up on the “Black History Month” business, folks. This is something we had planned to do for awhile, and it seemed like doing it in February would be fitting.

Each of these men individually deserve their own post, but to make a whole series for a man he needs to have both enough really good quotes and enough good pictures. There are really only a handful of men-white or otherwise-who meet both criteria. MLK could have, but there aren’t enough pics of Carver and Douglass to do a whole series on just them individually. But these men really deserved to be highlighted and we never would have had the chance unless we grouped them together under the black history banner.

49 Shehan February 5, 2010 at 12:45 am

I loved it. This site has grown so much in so many wonderful ways. I’m really proud to be associated with it.

50 john m February 10, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I’d like to be able to print several of these out for school. Do you have a higher resolution set available for download?

51 James February 13, 2010 at 6:00 am

The MLK quote referring to the ‘hottest place in hell is reserved for those who stand aside in times of great moral conflict’ is actually from Dante’s Inferno.

52 Suman November 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Yeah, I was interested (but a bit nvroeus) until he started mentioning feminism. Essentialism isn’t really a fantastic thing to be teaching as a method of counterculture, but we’ve rotated into this very strange place.Apollo’s comments are a good example of that sort of essentialist, stereotyping discourse that’s really been presented as an alternative to progressive viewpoints on gender and sexuality, and his tenuous grasp of the English language (are only women, not is only women) and his insertion of race into the discussion shows off what’s really on his mind he wants a return to the men over women, the whites over blacks, and the straights over gays era.

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