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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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.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

Freedom is like taking a bath — you have to keep doing it every day!

— Florynce Kennedy

Do what you can. Want what you have. Be who you are.

— Forrest Church

Freedom is from within.

— Frank Lloyd Wright

Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free than to live slaves.

— 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

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.

— Frederick Douglass

Nothing has been purchased more dearly than the little bit of reason and sense of freedom which now constitutes our pride.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

The iron chain and the silken cord are both equally bonds.

— Friedrich Schiller

Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.

— Friedrich Schiller

To die hating them, that was freedom.

— George Orwell, 1984

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.

— George Washington

Freedom is fragile and must be protected. To sacrifice it, even as a temporary measure, is to betray it.

— Germaine Greer

What is true and beautiful for us is always ultimately what is true and beautiful for our people because there is no such thing as one way liberation.

When we free ourselves, we automatically free everyone around us.

When we grant ourselves permission to live as our truest selves, we automatically grant permission to everyone around us to do the same.

— Glennon Doyle

The authority of any governing institution must stop at its citizen’s skin.

— Gloria Steinem

Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
‘You owe me.’
Look what happens with
A love like that.
It lights the whole sky.

— Hafiz of Persia

To keep our faces toward change, and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate, is strength undefeatable.

— Helen Keller

One will only be free when one plays and one’s society will become a piece of art.

— Herbert Marcuse

One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression.

— Howard Zinn

The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth. Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think. When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.

— Howard Zinn

There are incalculable resources in the human spirit, once it has been set free.

— Hubert H. Humphrey

Capitalism offers you freedom, but far from giving people freedom, it enslaves them.

— Ian Mckellen

It is not hard to figure out what Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and indentured White servants meant when they demanded liberty in 1776. But what about Jefferson and other slaveholders like him, whose wealth and power were dependent upon their land and their slaves? Did they desire unbridled freedom to enslave and exploit? Did they perceive any reduction in their power to be a reduction in their freedom? For these rich men, freedom was not the power to make choices; freedom was the power to create choices. England created the choices, the policies American elites had to abide by, just as planters created choices and policies that laborers had to follow. Only power gave Jefferson and other wealthy White colonists freedom from England. For Jefferson, power came before freedom. Indeed, power creates freedom, not the other way around — as the powerless are taught.

— Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

To bow to the fact of our life’s sorrows and betrayals is to accept them; and from this deep gesture we discover that all life is workable. As we learn to bow, we discover that the heart holds more freedom and compassion than we could imagine.

— Jack Kornfield

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.

— Jane Addams

Man [sic] is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.

— Jean-Paul Sartre (adapted)

A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.

— Jim Morrison

At times it seems as if arranging to have no commitment of any kind to anyone would be a special freedom. But in fact the whole idea works in reverse. The most deadly commitment of all is to be committed only to one’s self. Some come to realize this after they are in the nursing home.

— John D. MacDonald

The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.

— John F. Kennedy

How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now.

— John Lewis
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