Quotations about freedom: civil freedom, personal freedom — the power to choose how to act, speak, and think. Freedom can be a freedom to make one’s thoughts come to fruition in action, and thereby can involve compelling others to act, so that freedom is a power over other people. Or freedom can be to not have others compel us to act. Freedom, at its core, is about autonomy, and some versions of freedom recognize that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others.

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If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

— Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s, Often attributed to Lilla Watson, who said she was “not comfortable being credited for something that had been born of a collective process” — the attribution here is the one she accepted.

I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.

— Abraham Lincoln

No man is good enough to govern another man without his consent.

— Abraham Lincoln

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among human creatures.

— Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.

— Abraham Lincoln

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

— Adlai E. Stevenson

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

— Albert Camus

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.

— Albert Einstein

Almost all of us long for peace and freedom; but very few of us have much enthusiasm for the thoughts, feelings, and actions that make for peace and freedom.

— Aldous Huxley

Love, free as air, at sight of human ties,
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.

— Alexander Pope

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

We have the gift of human life, wherever it comes from, and the means of developing what is distinctively human…. When we ask, “What does it mean to be human?”, we find the answer in our ethical nature and in the cultivation of the gifts and possibilities of human beings. For it is the truth and beauty and goodness within human beings, that human beings must fulfill…. To believe in freedom, we have to believe in people.

— Algernon Black

If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.

— Alice Walker

Development consists of the removal of various types of unfreedoms that leave people with little choice and little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency. The removal of substantial unfreedoms, it is argued here, is constitutive of development.

— Amartya Sen

We Africans, having rejected the idea of begging for freedom, which was contrary to our dignity and our sacred right to freedom and independence, reaffirmed our steadfast decision to end colonial domination of our country, no matter what the sacrifices involved, and to conquer for ourselves the opportunity to achieve in peace our own progress and happiness.

— Amilcar Cabral

As long as there is rape… there is not going to be any peace or justice or equality or freedom. You are not going to become what you want to become or who you want to become. You are not going to live in the world you want to live in.

— Andrea Dworkin

Whether it’s freedom to express, freedom to live, freedom to earn, freedom to thrive, freedom to learn, whatever it is, I want to make sure that I’m a part of these spaces and opening doors.

— Angela Rye

Every renaissance comes to the world with a cry, the cry of the human spirit to be free.

— Anne Sullivan

… those who can serve best, those who help most, those who sacrifice most, those are the people who will be loved in life and honoured in death, when all questions of colour are swept away and when in a free country free citizens shall meet on equal grounds.

— Annie Besant

There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American dream.

— Archibald MacLeish

It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

— Assata Shakur

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

— Aung San Suu Kyi

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!

— Barry Goldwater

The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.

— Baruch Spinoza

He alone is free who lives with free consent under the entire guidance of reason.

— Baruch Spinoza

If men were born free, they would, so long as they remained free, form no conception of good and evil.

— Baruch Spinoza

As men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude … that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits.

— Baruch Spinoza

People will never fight for your freedom if you have not given evidence that you are prepared to fight for it yourself.

— 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

The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.

— bell hooks
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