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25 Powerful Quotes That Speak Volumes in the Fight Against Racism

These inspirational quotes ring true in the fight against racism now more than ever before.

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Powerful quotes

After the death of 46-year-old African American George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Monday, May 25, protests erupted across the United States and around the world in solidarity against racism and police brutality. As more people protest in peaceful demonstrations, the more society needs to change and strive toward peace and equality. Below are 25 well-known quotes that ring true in the fight against racism now more than ever before. (Here’s how to support the Black Lives Matter movement and become anti-racist.)

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own." –Michelle Obamard.com

Courage is contagious

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” –Michelle Obama, former first lady of the United States. (Here are 25 of the most inspiring Michelle Obama quotes.)

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” —Langston Hughesrd.com

Hold on to dreams

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” —Langston Hughes, American poet

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.rd.com

Light and dark, love and hate

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr., American minister and activist. (Here are 14 rarely seen photos of Martin Luther King, Jr., a leader of the Civil Rights movement who was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39.)

“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.” –Barack Obamard.com

Change

“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.” –Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. (This quote is real, but these are 12 famous presidential ‘quotes’ that are actually completely fake.)

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” –Malcolm Xrd.com

Peace and freedom

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” –Malcolm X, human rights activist and American Muslim minister. (Here are 13 human rights that still aren’t universal—but should be.)

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.rd.com

Living together

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.” —Martin Luther King, Jr. (If you’re looking for more quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr., here are 20 more inspiring quotes by him to help restore your faith in humanity.)

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandelard.com

Freedom of others

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, political leader, philanthropist. (Nelson Mandela’s autobiography is among the 10 best autobiographies you really should have read by now.)

"No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.” –Marian Andersonrd.com

A nation’s strength

“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.” –Marian Anderson, singer. (This is why desegregation didn’t put an end to racism in America.)

“The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.rd.com

Challenge and controversy

“The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Here are 10 thought-provoking movies to watch on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and any day out of the year.)

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” –Desmond Tuturd.com

Be human together

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” –Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize award-winner, South African Anglican cleric. (Here are just a few true stories of ordinary people who changed history.)

“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.” –Rosa Parksrd.com

Diminishing fear

“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.” –Rosa Parks, activist. (Here are 16 ways women still aren’t equal to men.)

“For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” –Eleanor Rooseveltrd.com

Work at peace

“For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” –Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Meadrd.com

Committed citizens

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist. (Here are 15 creative ways to volunteer and make a difference.)

“Freedom is never given; it is won.” –A. Philip Randolphrd.com

Freedom is won

“Freedom is never given; it is won.” –A. Philip Randolph, civil rights leader 

“If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.” –Lila Watsonrd.com

Walk together

“If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.” –Lila Watson, activist, academic, and visual artist. (This is why Black History Month shouldn’t be a single month.)

“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.” –Ken Keyes, Jr.rd.com

A loving person

“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.” –Ken Keyes, Jr., author. (Here are 18 forgiveness quotes that will help you to finally just let go.)

“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 Thomasrd.com

Complex human beings

“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, philanthropist and civil rights activist

“The time is always right to do what is right.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.rd.com

The right time

“The time is always right to do what is right.” –Martin Luther King, Jr. (Here’s how Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday became a federal holiday.)

“If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything… that smacks of discrimination or slander.” —Mary McLeod Bethunerd.com

Protest openly everything

“If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything… that smacks of discrimination or slander.” —Mary McLeod Bethune, political activist, organizer, and educator. (Here are 19 inspiring quotes from teachers around the world.)

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict—alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.” —Dorothy Thompsonrd.com

Creative alternatives

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict—alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.” —Dorothy Thompson, journalist 

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” —Muhammad Alird.com

Take risks

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” —Muhammad Ali, activist, philanthropist, and professional boxer 

“The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.” —Maya Angelourd.com

The need for change

“The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.” —Maya Angelou, poet, civil rights activist. (These are the 100 books everyone should read in their lifetime.)

“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” —Indira Gandhird.com

Shake hands

“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” —Indira Gandhi, former prime minister of India. (Next, here are 23 moving quotes about peace from world leaders.)

“Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.” –Eugene Ionescord.com

Dreams

“Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.” –Eugene Ionesco, Romanian-French playwright

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.rd.com

Justice

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr. (Next, check out these motivational quotes.)

Originally Published on Reader's Digest