120 Inspirational Civil Rights Quotes About Social Freedom And Equality

Georgia Stone
Dec 12, 2023 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Jan 11, 2021
Civil rights quotes are essential for learning
Age: 0-99
Read time: 13.5 Min

Today's children can only imagine the struggle their forefathers faced when they fought for basic human rights in the United States.

Black people only ever wanted to live in their country with the basic rights that make them human. They wanted health care and education, a right to vote, and no reason to fear walking in the street.

It took a long time to make any progress. Success was hard-won and required sacrifices from thousands. These famous civil rights quotes will make you realize the fear before the movement and how many suffered.

Also, check out I have a dream speech quotes and activism quotes

Civil Rights Quotes: Black History Quotes

Civil rights quotes are filled with vigor and yearning for freedom. These quotes are featured in numerous books and used by liberals to wake the world up to injustice. Check these civil rights quotes that apply to the Black Lives Matter Movement as well.  

Civil rights quotes preach equality.

1.“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”

― Rosa Parks

2.“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

3.“The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”

—Maya Angelou

4."This is Not Another Revolution. This is a Civil Rights Movement"

-Hamid Dabashi

5."Women's rights is not only an abstraction, a cause; it is also a personal affair. It is not only about us; it is also about me and you. Just the two of us."

-Toni Morrison

6."You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”

― Malcolm X

7."You could not be in the civil rights movement without having an appreciation for everybody's rights."

-Julian Bond

8. "I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality."

-Alice Paul

9.“Mass civil disobedience is like an earthquake, a sort of general upheaval on the political plane.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

10."Equality is not in regarding different things similarly; equality is in regarding different things differently."

-Tom Robbins

11.“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

—Muhammad Ali

12."The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others."

-Julian Bond.

13.“A political struggle that does not have women at the heart of it, above it, below it, and within it is no struggle at all.”

-Arundhati Roy

14."The black power movement was not a separation from the civil rights movement, but a continuation of this whole process of democratization."

-Danny Glover

15.“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

― Edmund Burke

16.“As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.”

―Clarence Darrow

17.“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight.”

-Bob Marley

18.“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”

― Thomas Jefferson

19."Freedom, by definition, is people realizing that they are their own leaders."

-Diane Nash.

20.“The greatest movement for social justice our country has ever known is the civil rights movement and it was totally rooted in a love ethic.”

– Bell Hooks

21.“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry...”

― Thomas Jefferson

22.“If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.”

—James Baldwin

23."These men ask for just the same thing: fairness, and fairness only."

-Abraham Lincoln

24.“Being an American is about having the right to be who you are. Sometimes that doesn't happen.”

― Herb Ritts

25."Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free."

-14th Dalai Lama

26.“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

—Toni Morrison

27.“School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”

– Ted Cruz

Freedom Quotes

This section features Civil Rights quotes that enliven the struggle of thousands of lives that were sacrificed during the Civil Rights Movement. The words of Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes and Lyndon B. Johnson Civil Rights quotes can still be used to and related to.  

Civil Rights quotes are important still.

28.“Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.”

― Benjamin Franklin

29.“The civil rights movement was based on faith. Segregation and racial discrimination were not in keeping with our faith, so we had to do something.”

– John Lewis

30.“Don’t agonize, organize.”

—Florynce Kennedy

31.“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

― Abraham Lincoln

32.“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear”

Aung San Suu Kyi

33."Before God, we are all equally wise, and equally foolish."

-Albert Einstein

34.“We have a wonderful history behind us…and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.”

—Carter G. Woodson

35.“If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves.”

Mary McLeod Bethune

36."We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right.”

—Aretha Franklin

37."My father was a slave and my people died to build this country and I am going to stay here and have a part of it just like you."

-Paul Robeson

38.“Always seek justice, but love only mercy. To love justice and hate mercy is but a doorway to more injustice.”

― Criss Jami

39.“Peace does not just mean putting an end to violence or war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty.”

-Aung San Suu Kyi

40."We must hold ourselves strictly accountable. We must provide the people with a vision of the future."

-Barbara Jordan

41.“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.”

—Rosa Parks

42.“Democracy not only requires equality but also an unshakable conviction in the value of each person, who is then equal.”

– Jeane Kirkpatrick

43."If we were to select the most intelligent, imaginative, energetic, and emotionally stable third of mankind, all races would be present."

-Franz Boas

44.“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

-Nelson Mandela

45.“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”

― Henry David Thoreau

46.“The South resented giving the Afro-American his freedom, the ballot box and the Civil Rights Law.”

– Ida B. Wells

47.“The civil rights movement would experience many important victories, but Rosa Parks will always be remembered as its catalyst.”

– Jim Costa

48.“The question of color was but another detail, somewhere between being six feet tall and being six feet under.”

― James Baldwin

49."LISTEN: If you ever wondered what you would do if you were alive in the Civil Rights Movement, NOW IS THE TIME to find out. NOW. RIGHT NOW."

-Shaun King

50.“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”

—W.E.B. Du Bois

51."Equality implies individuality."

-Trey Anastasio

52.“The thing about black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.”

—Henry Louis Gates

53.“When Black women stand up— as they did during the Montgomery Bus Boycott—as they did during the Black liberation era, earth-shaking changes occur.”

― Angela Y. Davis

54.“When we address the disparities facing black people, we get a lot closer to a true democracy where all lives matter.”

– Alicia Garza

Civil Rights Movement Quotes

These quotes about the Civil Rights Movement talk about how people need to take action to acquire states rights. Remember the lives of those who fought against racism for freedom through these civil rights quotes.

55."The time is always right to do what is right."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

56.“Equality and separation cannot exist in the same space.”

– Jason Mraz

57.“Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free . . . your true self comes out.”

—Tina Turner

58.“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

—Frederick Douglass

59.“The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.”

― Cesar Chavez

60."As a civil rights leader, Mrs. King's vision of racial peace and nonviolent social change was a fortifying staple in advancing the civil rights movement."

-James T. Walsh

61.“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”

—Jackie Robinson

62."Until we get equality in education, we won't have an equal society."

-Sonia Sotomayor

63."The entire system of the judiciary of this country is in the hands of white people. "

- Ida B Wells.

64.“When we’re talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us.”

—Ava DuVernay

65.“Freedom is never given; it is won.”

—A. Philip Randolph

66.“I became convinced that non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

67.“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”

—Abraham Joshua Heschel

68.“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

—Dr. Mae Jemison

69.“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies...but the silence of our friends.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

70.“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”

― John Lewis

71.“We have no right to prejudice another in his civil enjoyments because he is of another church.”

― Thomas Jefferson

72.“Have a vision. Be demanding.”

—Colin Powell

73.“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.”

Nina Simone

74.“Before God and high heaven, is there a law for one man which is not a law for every other man?”

― Howard Zinn

75.“Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught.  I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”

—Dennis Leary

76.“Discrimination is not settled with enough is enough, rather it can be poured on you until your cup is overflowing.”

― Asa Don Brown

77."There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights."

- Martin Luther King.

78."You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free."

-Clarence Darrow

79.“A man without a vote is a man without protection.”

― Lyndon B. Johnson

80.“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”

—Angela Davis

81.“Freedom. It stays in your head and won't bust out or slip away like tears.”

― Shelton Johnson

82.“We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.”

– Will Rogers

83.“If you believe in a cause, be willing to stand up for that cause with a million people or by yourself.”

― Otis S. Johnson

84."Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power."

-Barbara Jordan

85."It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. Never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant."

-Desmond Tutu

86.“The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.”

—Eldridge Cleaver

87.“Only a 'dry as dust' religion prompts a minister to extol the glories of Heaven while ignoring the social conditions that cause men an Earthly hell.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

88.“Justice is what love sounds like when it speaks in public.”

― Michael Eric Dyson

89.“If you think the civil rights movement is over, you're the one who's out of touch, not me.”

― Madeline Fitch

90."I think that the thing that we learned back in the day of the Civil Rights Movement is that you do have to keep on keeping on."

― Charlayne Hunter-Gault

91.“I knew then and I know now, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it.”

Claudette Colvin

92.“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.”

Coretta Scott King

93.“There’s no problem on the planet that can’t be solved without violence. That’s the lesson of the civil rights movement.”

– Andrew Young

94."There is a strong moralistic strain in the civil rights movement that would remind us that power corrupts, forgetting that the absence of power also corrupts."

-Bayard Rustin

95."I don't think the riots derailed the civil rights movement."

- Henry Louis Gates

96."I think art can really serve to inspire a movement - and, of course, it has in the past. The Civil Rights movement wouldn't have the same resonance without the songs from everyone from Pete Seeger to Odetta to James Brown."

-Saul Williams

97.“The civil rights movement was about access to public space. We had to fight for public space.”

– Jacqueline Woods

98.“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

99.“If you have a dog, I must have a dog. If you have a rifle, I must have a rifle. If you have a club, I must have a club. This is equality.”

– Malcolm X

100.“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

—Ida B. Wells

101.“The question is really a kind of apathy and ignorance, which is the price we pay for segregation. That’s what segregation means.”

― James Baldwin

102.“The most ironic outcome of the black Civil Rights movement has been the creation of a new black middle class which is increasingly separate from the black underclass.”

– Henry Louis Gates

103.“A little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills.”

– W. E. B. Du Bois

104."Rosa Parks was primed, she had the Civil Rights Movement behind her, she didn't just decide to sit on the bus, it was strategic."

-Aisha Hinds

105.“It was civil disobedience that won them their civil rights.”

― Tariq Ali

106.“[T]he vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”

― Lyndon B. Johnson

107.“Don’t let anything stop you. There will be times when you’ll be disappointed, but you can’t stop.”

—Sadie T. M. Alexander

108.“You can jail a Revolutionary, but you can't jail the Revolution.”

― Fred Hampton

109."As important as the civil rights movement was, I think what will rise to the top is that we left Earth in that time."

-Neil deGrasse Tyson

110.“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

111."We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

- Martin Luther King.

112."Our involvement in the civil rights movement is what sent us into our involvement against apartheid."

-Mary Jane Patterson

113.“The unsung heroes of the civil rights movement were always the wives and the mothers.”

– Andrew Young

114.“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.”

—Ola Joseph

115."I believe it is my obligation to tell the story of the civil rights movement to the next generation."

-John Lewis

116.“Here was one of the white man's most characteristic behavior patterns - where black men are concerned. He loves himself so much that he is startled if he discovers that his victims don't share his vainglorious self-opinion.”

― Malcolm X

117.“Every man has a right to a Saturday night bath.”

- Lyndon B. Johnson

118."Ever since the civil rights movement, the black church has always encouraged people to utilize their voting right, which is a right that was fought for."

-Otis Moss III

119.“Until cops stop treating blacks differently than whites, we’re going to have problems.”

― Mark M. Bello

120."The really important victory of the civil rights movement was that it made racism unpopular"

-Carol Moseley Braun

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for civil rights quotes then why not take a look at Rosa Parks quotes, or Thurgood Marshall quotes.

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia Stone picture

Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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