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.
There is no freedom like seeing myself as I am and not losing heart.
Only the educated are free.
We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.
If other people do not understand our behavior — so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being “asocial” or “irrational” in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to “explain,” which usually implies that the explanation be “understood,” i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself — to his reason and his conscience — and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.
Human history begins with man’s act of disobedience which is at the very same time the beginning of his freedom and development of his reason.
Modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.
Is there not also, perhaps, besides an innate desire for freedom, an instinctive wish for submission? If there is not, how can we account for the attraction which submission to a leader has for so many today? Is submission always to an overt authority, or is there also submission to internalized authorities, such as duty or conscience, to inner compulsions or to anonymous authorities like public opinion?
Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
To stir the masses, to appeal to their higher, better selves, to set them thinking for themselves, and to hold ever before them the ideal of mutual kindness and good will, based upon mutual interests, is to render real service to the cause of humanity.
I abhorred slavery in every form. I yearned to see all men and all women free. I detested the idea of some men being ruled by others, and of women being ruled by men. I believed that women should have all the rights men have, and I looked upon child labor as a crime. And so I became an agitator and this ruling passion of my life found larger expression.
Sometimes it seem like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.
When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.
Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.
Whether you have a Ph.D., or no D, we’re in this bag together. And whether you’re from Morehouse or Nohouse, we’re still in this bag together. Not to fight to try to liberate ourselves from the men — this is another trick to get us fighting among ourselves — but to work together with the black man, then we will have a better chance to just act as human beings, and to be treated as human beings in our sick society.
If I am truly free, who can tell me how much of my freedom I can have today?
If I fall, I will fall five-feet four-inches forward in the fight for freedom.
The only thing I really feel is necessary is that the black people, not only in Mississippi, will have to actually upset this applecart. What I mean by that is, so many things are under the cover that will have to be swept out and shown to this whole world, not just to America. This thing they say of “the land of the free and the home of the brave” is all on paper.
But why is democracy as against autocracy, or what we call freedom, so stringent in its appeal, its evocations? Certain conditions are indispensable to spiritual growth, the growth and heightening of human personality. Political freedom is one of them.
Political freedom, rightly understood, means that the will of every member of the commonwealth, guided by intelligence, shall be employed in deciding what is for the common good, that is, in creating those conditions on which the highest efflorescence of every human personality depends. This is the reason why autocracy is odious, and the ever wider extension of free political institutions is a dear and noble aim. This is the reason why those who have served the cause of freedom have served a great cause, and in serving it have themselves been greatened.
Freedom is like taking a bath — you have to keep doing it every day!
Do what you can. Want what you have. Be who you are.
Freedom is from within.
Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free than to live slaves.
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.
Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down.
Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.
Nothing has been purchased more dearly than the little bit of reason and sense of freedom which now constitutes our pride.
The iron chain and the silken cord are both equally bonds.
Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.
Democracy has given to conscience absolute liberty.