Quotations about   civil rights

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



I’d be the first to say that some historical victories have been won by violence; the U.S. Revolution is certainly one of the foremost. But the Negro revolution is seeking integration, not independence. Those fighting for independence have the purpose to drive out the oppressors. But here in America, we’ve got to live together. We’ve got to find a way to reconcile ourselves to living in community, one group with the other. The struggle of the Negro in America, to be successful, must be waged with resolute efforts, but efforts that are kept strictly within the framework of our democratic society. This means reaching, educating and moving large enough groups of people of both races to stir the conscience of the nation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
    (Source)
Added on 24-Mar-19 | Last updated 24-Mar-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by King, Martin Luther

No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him, no will we send against him except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.

Other Authors and Sources
Magna Carta, Clause 39 (1215)
Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 21-Apr-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by ~Other

One hundred and eighty-eight years ago this week a small band of valiant men began a long struggle for freedom. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor not only to found a nation, but to forge an ideal of freedom — not only for political independence, but for personal liberty — not only to eliminate foreign rule, but to establish the rule of justice in the affairs of men. That struggle was a turning point in our history. Today in far corners of distant continents, the ideals of those American patriots still shape the struggles of men who hunger for freedom. This is a proud triumph. Yet those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American poltician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Speech, Signing the Civil Rights Act (2 Jul 1964)
Added on 13-Jul-16 | Last updated 13-Jul-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Johnson, Lyndon

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I Have a Dream,” speech, Washington, DC (28 Aug 1963)
Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by King, Martin Luther

True liberty shows itself to best advantage in protecting the rights of others, and especially of minorities.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
“Biological Analogies in History,” Romanes Lecture, Oxford University (7 Jun 1910)
    (Source)
Added on 19-Aug-15 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Roosevelt, Theodore

Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, closes to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Speech, United Nations (27 Mar 1958)
Added on 29-Apr-15 | Last updated 29-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Roosevelt, Eleanor

We must show by our behavior that we believe in equality and justice and that our religion teaches faith and love and charity to our fellow men. Here is where each of us has a job to do that must be done at home, because we can lose the battle on the soil of the United States just as surely as we can lose it in any one of the countries of the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
India and the Awakening East (1953)
Added on 25-Mar-15 | Last updated 6-Jun-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Roosevelt, Eleanor

In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
“Speech on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence” (5 Jul 1926)
    (Source)
Added on 8-Oct-14 | Last updated 8-Oct-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Coolidge, Calvin

The doctrine of the Declaration of Independence predicated upon the glory of man and the corresponding duty to society that the rights of citizens ought to be protected with every power and resource of the state, and a government that does any less is false to the teachings of that great document — false to the name American.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
Equal Rights (1920)
Added on 24-Sep-14 | Last updated 24-Sep-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Coolidge, Calvin

We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
“The Sinews of Peace,” speech, Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri (5 Mar 1946)
Added on 17-Sep-14 | Last updated 17-Sep-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Churchill, Winston

The right to be heard would be, in many cases, of little avail if it did not comprehend the right to be heard by counsel. Even the intelligent and educated layman has small and sometimes no skill in the science of law. If charged with crime, he is incapable, generally, of determining for himself whether the indictment is good or bad. He is unfamiliar with the rules of evidence. Left without the aid of counsel he may be put on trial without a proper charge, and convicted upon incompetent evidence, or evidence irrelevant to the issue or otherwise inadmissible. He lacks both the skill and knowledge adequately to prepare his defense, even though he have a perfect one. He requires the guiding hand of counsel at every step in the proceedings against him. Without it, though he be not guilty, he faces the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence. If that be true of men of intelligence, how much more true is it of the ignorant and illiterate, or those of feeble intellect.

George Sutherland (1862-1942) Anglo-American jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1922-1938)
Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45, 53 (1932) [majority opinion]
Added on 27-Aug-14 | Last updated 27-Aug-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Sutherland, George

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1801)
    (Source)
Added on 4-Apr-13 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Jefferson, Thomas

Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
“The New Nationalism,” speech, Osawatomie, Kansas (31 Aug 1910)
Added on 3-Jul-12 | Last updated 17-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Roosevelt, Theodore

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Attributed)

Cited in some cases as the closing argument while defending the British Soldiers accused of killing 5 colonists in the "Boston Massacre" (usually given as "Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials" (Dec 1770)), but I did not find it in accounts of that defense.
Added on 7-Jul-11 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Adams, John

Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.

William Allen White (1868-1944) American writer and journalist
“A Free Press in a Machine Age,” speech, U. of Pennsylvania (2 May 1938)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by White, William Allen

The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech.

Anthony Kennedy (b. 1936) US Supreme Court Justice
International Society for Krishna Consciousness v. Lee, 505 U.S. 672 (26 Jun 1992) [concurring[
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Kennedy, Anthony