30 Angela Davis Quotes That Remind Us To Never Get Passive In The Fight For Justice

30 Angela Davis Quotes That Remind Us To Never Get Passive In The Fight For Justice

Angela Davis is an American political activist, philosopher, and author. 

She is a highly esteemed and educated Black woman with books on feminism, race, democracy, and freedom. 

The recent events of police brutality in the United States have caused an outcry for activism

With protests still being conducted in light of George Floyd’s death, and the death of many others, Davis’ message on the civil rights movement reigns true today. 

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In her 76 years of life, Davis has been an inspiration to many, remaining strong in her fight for Black equality. 

Heavily concerned with prison reform, defunding the police, and restructuring the bail system, Davis’ ideas are finally being addressed. 

While much of her activism took place in the 1970s, she is still showing Americans the importance of speaking up and demanding change

It can be easy to ignore the inequalities that surround us, especially as a White person in America. 

Nevertheless, it is our responsibility now, more than ever, to be persistent. 

Here are 30 Angela Davis quotes that remind us to never become passive in the fight for justice. 

1. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” 

2. “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” 

3. “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”

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

5. “Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don't yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it's actually going to be possible.” 

6. “I think that this is an era where we have to encourage that sense of community particularly at a time when neoliberalism attempts to force people to think of themselves only in individual terms and not in collective terms. It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.” 

7. “I try never to take myself for granted as somebody who should be out there speaking. Rather, I'm doing it only because I feel there's something important that needs to be conveyed.”

8. “Everyone is familiar with the slogan 'The personal is political' — not only that what we experience on a personal level has profound political implications, but that our interior lives, our emotional lives are very much informed by ideology. We oftentimes do the work of the state in and through our interior lives. What we often assume belongs most intimately to ourselves and to our emotional life has been produced elsewhere and has been recruited to do the work of racism and repression.” 

9. “I don't think we have any alternative other than remaining optimistic. Optimism is an absolute necessity, even if it's only optimism of the will, as Gramsci said, and pessimism of the intellect.” 

10. "I feel that if we don't take seriously the ways in which racism is embedded in structures of institutions, if we assume that there must be an identifiable racist who is the perpetrator, then we won't ever succeed in eradicating racism.” 

11. “If we do not know how to meaningfully talk about racism, our actions will move in misleading directions.” 

12. “I don't think we can rely on governments, regardless of who is in power, to do the work that only mass movements can do.” 

13. “The roots of sexism and homophobia are found in the same economic and political institutions that serve as the foundation of racism in this country and, more often than not, the same extremist circles that inflict violence on people of color are responsible for the eruptions of violence inspired by sexist and homophobic biases. Our political activism must clearly manifest our understanding of these connections.”

14. “Whenever you conceptualize social justice struggles, you will always defeat your own purposes if you cannot imagine the people around whom you are struggling as equal partners.” 

15. “But there’s a message there for everyone and it is that people can unite, that democracy from below can challenge oligarchy, that imprisoned migrants can be freed, that fascism can be overcome, and that equality is emancipatory.”

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16. “It is essential to resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding community of struggle.”

17. “Our histories never unfold in isolation. We cannot truly tell what we consider to be our own histories without knowing the other stories. And often we discover that those other stories are actually our own stories.”

18. “I would say that as our struggles mature, they produce new ideas, new issues, and new terrains on which we engage in the quest for freedom. Like Nelson Mandela, we must be willing to embrace the long walk toward freedom.” 

19. “There is a difference between outcome and impact. Many people assume that because the encampments are gone and nothing tangible was produced, that there was no outcome. But when we think about the impact of these imaginative and innovative actions and these moments where people learned how to be together without the scaffolding of the state, when they learned to solve problems without succumbing to the impulse of calling the police, that should serve as a true inspiration for the work that we will do in the future to build these transnational solidarities.”

20. “Regimes of racial segregation were not disestablished because of the work of leaders and presidents and legislators, but rather because of the fact that ordinary people adopted a critical stance in the way in which they perceived their relationship to reality.” 

21. “If one looks at the history of struggles against racism in the US, no change has ever happened simply because the president chose to move in a more progressive direction. Every change that has happened has come as a result of mass movements.”

22. “This movement was something so extraordinary, not only because it saved my life — and that was a major accomplishment — but also because it demonstrated that change was possible as a result of organized, mass pressure.” 

23. “To reiterate, rather than try to imagine one single alternative to the existing system of incarceration, we might envision an array of alternatives that will require radical transformations of many aspects of our society. Alternatives that fail to address racism, male dominance, homophobia, class bias, and other structures of domination will not, in the final analysis, lead to decarceration and will not advance the goal of abolition.” 

24. “We are not afraid to adopt a revolutionary stance — if, indeed, we wish to be radical in our quest for change — then we must get to the root of our oppression. After all, radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’”

25. “We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.”

26. “The work of the political activist inevitably involves a certain tension between the requirement that position be taken on current issues as they arise and the desire that one's contributions will somehow survive the ravages of time.”

27. “I never saw myself as an individual who had any particular leadership powers.”

28. “The process of empowerment cannot be simplistically defined in accordance with our own particular class interests. We must learn to lift as we climb.”

29. “Revolution is a serious thing, the most serious thing about a revolutionary’s life. When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime.”

30. “It is important not only to have the awareness and to feel impelled to become involved, it’s important that there be a forum out there to which one can relate, an organization — a movement.”

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Isabella Pacinelli is a writer who covers relationship, self-love, spirituality, and entertainment topics.