Activism is the practice of working, often vigorously, for or against social or political change, moving beyond theory to action.  Action can be direct or indirect.  Activism can include lobbying decision-makers, boycotts, strikes, marches, sit-ins, running for office, supporting candidates for office, donating funds, or establishing organizations.  Activism is a form of organized action to bring values to the social, economic, cultural, and political community.

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Anything that reaches toward the sky must have a strong foundation to hold it up. That’s how I think of movements — movements reach toward the sky to achieve what has been deemed impossible.

— Alicia Garza, The Purpose of Power

Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.

— Amilcar Cabral

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

— Anne Frank

I really worry about these political people that have no personal life. If there’s nothing that’s lovely, and if there’s nothing that’s just ephemeral, that you can just lie on the floor and bust a gut laughing at, then what’s the point?

— Arundhati Roy

But the question is a matter of the survival and the teaching. That’s what our work comes down to. No matter where we key into it, it’s the same work, just different pieces of ourselves doing it.

— Audre Lorde

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

— Audre Lorde

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never allow us to bring about genuine change.

— Audre Lorde

The world will not be destroyed by evil people but by good people who do nothing to stop it. Hopefully there will always be good people courageous enough to take on the bad guys, this is the only way humanity can hope for salvation.

— Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me.

— Bayard Rustin

I believe in social dislocation and creative trouble.

— Bayard Rustin

We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.

— Bayard Rustin

If we want to do away with the injustice to gays it will not be done because we get rid of the injustice to gays. It will be done because we are forwarding the effort for the elimination of injustice to all. And we will win the rights for gays, or blacks, or Hispanics, or women within the context of whether we are fighting for all.

— Bayard Rustin

You have to join every other movement for the freedom of people. Therefore join the movement as individuals against anti-Semitism, join the movements for the rights of Hispanics, the rights of women, the rights of gays. In other words, I think that each movement has to stand on its own feet because it has a particular agenda, but it can ask other people.

— Bayard Rustin

Living as we do in a white-supremacist capitalist and patriarchal context that can best exploit us when we lack a firm grounding in self and identity, choosing “wellness” is an act of political resistance.

— bell hooks

Today whenever women gather together it is not necessarily nurturing. It is coalition building. And if you feel the strain, you may be doing some good work.

— Bernice Johnson Reagon

Self dedication is a spiritual experience.

— Cesar Chavez

But oh, how inexpressibly bitter and agonizing it is to feel oneself an outcast from the rest of mankind, as we are in this country! To me it is dreadful, dreadful.… Oh, that I could do much towards bettering our condition. I will do all, all the very little that lies in my power, while life and strength last!

— Charlotte Forten Grimké, 1857

Sometimes, I am also identified as a civil rights leader or a human rights activist. I would also like to be thought of as a complex, three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood human being with a rich storehouse of experiences, much like everyone else, yet unique in my own way, much like everyone else.

— Coretta Scott King

Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.

— Dolores Huerta

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

— Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

— E.B. White

Sometimes just being yourself is the radical act. When you occupy space in systems that weren’t built for you, your authenticity is activism.

— Elaine Weleteroth

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

— Elie Wiesel

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

— Elie Wiesel

To me democracy is an exciting, living practice, what we do every day. To most democracy doesn’t relate to our daily lives and it sure isn’t much fun. I now see that to engage in democracy, to jump into this living practice we all need something tangible to act on…

— Frances Moore Lappé, Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet

With food as a starting point, we can choose to meet people and to encounter events so powerful that they can jar us out of our ordinary ways of seeing the world, and open us to new uplifting possibilities.

— Frances Moore Lappé, Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet

Once a reporter asked A.J. Muste, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of
this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?”
Muste replied softly: “Oh I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t
change me.”

— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

— Frederick Douglass

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

— Frederick Douglass

No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving something behind.

— George Washington Carver
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