55 Best Quotes from Angela Davis

Quote Graphic: We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society. — Angela Davis

Angela Davis, an icon of resistance, academic scholar, and activist, has spent decades at the forefront of movements for social justice, advocating for the rights of the oppressed and marginalized. 

Her work as a radical activist during the civil rights movement and beyond has made her a symbol of the fight against systemic racism, mass incarceration, and gender inequality. 

Her quotes, often cited in discussions on feminism, race, and social change, reflect a deep understanding of the struggles for freedom and equality. 

They serve not only as a critique of the status quo but also as a source of hope and inspiration for future generations committed to making a difference.

In this article, we’ve curated a collection of Angela Davis’s most impactful quotes. 

Whether you're engaged in social justice work or looking to deepen your understanding of these critical issues, Davis's words offer valuable perspectives and a reminder of the power of perseverance and solidarity in the face of adversity.

The Best Quotes from Angela Davis

Famous Quotes

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
— Angela Davis

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Davis

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”
— Angela Davis

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” — Angela Davis

“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
— Angela Davis

“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” — Angela Davis

“Movements are most powerful when they begin to affect the vision and perspective of those who do not necessarily associate themselves with those movements.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement

“Movements are most powerful when they begin to affect the vision and perspective of those who do not necessarily associate themselves with those movements.” — Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement

“Justice is indivisible. You can’t decide who gets civil rights and who doesn’t.”
— Angela Davis

“Justice is indivisible. You can’t decide who gets civil rights and who doesn’t.” — Angela Davis

“It is only through the imagination that we reinvent ourselves and our relation to others.”
— Angela Davis, in a speech

“It is only through the imagination that we reinvent ourselves and our relation to others.” — Angela Davis, in a speech

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”
— Angela Davis

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” — Angela Davis

On Freedom 

“Freedom can’t be contained within a paradigm that is individualistic. One cannot be free alone: freedom is collective. Freedom is about transforming conditions so that communities can live in more habitable conditions.”
— Angela Davis

“Freedom can’t be contained within a paradigm that is individualistic. One cannot be free alone: freedom is collective. Freedom is about transforming conditions so that communities can live in more habitable conditions.” — Angela Davis

“We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.”
— Angela Davis

“But there’s a message there for everyone and it is that people can unite, that democracy from below can challenge oligarchy, that imprisoned migrants can be freed, that fascism can be overcome, and that equality is emancipatory.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“The challenge of the twenty-first century is not to demand equal opportunity to participate in the machinery of oppression. Rather, it is to identify and dismantle those structures in which racism continues to be embedded. This is the only way the promise of freedom can be extended to masses of people.”
— Angela Davis

“As a black woman, my politics and political affiliation are bound up with and flow from participation in my people’s struggle for liberation, and with the fight of oppressed people all over the world against American imperialism.”
— Angela Davis

“The idea of freedom is inspiring. But what does it mean? If you are free in a political sense but have no food, what’s that? The freedom to starve?”
— Angela Davis

“The idea of freedom is inspiring. But what does it mean? If you are free in a political sense but have no food, what’s that? The freedom to starve?” — Angela Davis

On Leadership

“Leadership does not have to be individualistic… it can be collective.”
— Angela Davis

“Leadership does not have to be individualistic… it can be collective.” — Angela Davis

“Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible.”
— Angela Davis

“I try never to take myself for granted as somebody who should be out there speaking. Rather, I’m doing it only because I feel there’s something important that needs to be conveyed.”
— Angela Davis

“Black women have always grasped the intersectional character of us being in the world. Particularly now it’s important to make the connection between labor organizing, combating sexual violence, and recognizing the repressive apparatus of the prisons, and the police. The advice I would give would be to stay connected to that tradition [of intersectionality], and not try to simplify what appears to be very complex. To recognize it, you have to take into consideration race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and so on.”
— Angela Davis, in an article

“I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.”
— Angela Davis

“The process of empowerment cannot be simplistically defined in accordance with our own particular class interests. We must learn to lift as we climb.”
— Angela Davis

“The process of empowerment cannot be simplistically defined in accordance with our own particular class interests. We must learn to lift as we climb.” — Angela Davis

On Community

“It is essential to resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding community of struggle.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“It is essential to resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding community of struggle.” — Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“I think in black communities today we need to encourage a lot more cross-racial organizing.”
— Angela Davis

“I think that this is an era where we have to encourage that sense of community particularly at a time when neoliberalism attempts to force people to think of themselves only in individual terms and not in collective terms. It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“It is important not only to have the awareness and to feel impelled to become involved, it’s important that there be a forum out there to which one can relate, an organization — a movement.”
— Angela Davis

“It is important not only to have the awareness and to feel impelled to become involved, it’s important that there be a forum out there to which one can relate, an organization — a movement.” — Angela Davis

On Education

“I think that many people have forgotten that, if knowledge is to have any meaning, if it is to be useful, it should have an impact in the world.”
— Angela Davis

“I think that many people have forgotten that, if knowledge is to have any meaning, if it is to be useful, it should have an impact in the world.” — Angela Davis

“When children attend schools that place a greater value in discipline and security than on knowledge and intellectual development, they are attending prep schools for prisons.”
— Angela Davis

“When you talk about public education, you’re talking about the education of Black and brown children. Attacks on public education are attacks on communities of color and poor communities.”
— Angela Davis

“If you take democracy seriously, then you have to take education seriously as well, because at its best, education allows for the practice of democracy. The classroom should be a space where students learn how to practice radical democracy.”
— Angela Davis

“If you take democracy seriously, then you have to take education seriously as well, because at its best, education allows for the practice of democracy. The classroom should be a space where students learn how to practice radical democracy.” — Angela Davis

On Prison

“Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.”
— Angela Davis

“Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.” — Angela Davis

“Imprisonment is increasingly used as a strategy of deflection of the underlying social problems — racism, poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and so on.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“In many ways you can say that the prison serves as an institution that consolidates the state’s inability and refusal to address the most pressing social problems of this era.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“The prison has become a black hole into which the detritus of contemporary capitalism is deposited. Mass imprisonment generates profits as it devours social wealth, and thus it tends to reproduce the very conditions that lead people to prison.”
— Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?

“The prison therefore functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of the responsibility of thinking about the real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in such disproportionate numbers. This is the ideological work that the prison performs — it relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.”
— Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?

“Despite the importance of antiracist social movements over the last half century, racism hides from view within institutional structures, and its most reliable refuge is the prison system.”
— Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?

“Despite the importance of antiracist social movements over the last half century, racism hides from view within institutional structures, and its most reliable refuge is the prison system.” — Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?‍

On Social Justice

“Past struggles cannot correct current injustices.”
— Angela Davis, Conversations with Angela Davis

“Past struggles cannot correct current injustices.” — Angela Davis, Conversations with Angela Davis

“I think the quest for civil rights for migrants and refugees is one of the most important issues in the world right now.”
— Angela Davis

“Anyway, I don’t think we can rely on governments, regardless of who is in power, to do the work that only mass movements can do.”
— Angela Davis

“Whenever you conceptualize social justice struggles, you will always defeat your own purposes if you cannot imagine the people around whom you are struggling as equal partners.”
— Angela Davis

“We are never assured of justice without a fight.”
— Angela Davis

“What the civil rights movement did, it seems to me, was to create a new terrain for asking new questions and moving in new directions.”
— Angela Davis, Conversations with Angela Davis

“What the civil rights movement did, it seems to me, was to create a new terrain for asking new questions and moving in new directions.” — Angela Davis, Conversations with Angela Davis

On Feminism

“I often like to talk about feminism not as something that adheres to bodies, not as something grounded in gendered bodies, but as an approach — as a way of conceptualizing, as a methodology, as a guide to strategies for struggle. That means feminism doesn’t belong to anyone in particular.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“I often like to talk about feminism not as something that adheres to bodies, not as something grounded in gendered bodies, but as an approach — as a way of conceptualizing, as a methodology, as a guide to strategies for struggle. That means feminism doesn’t belong to anyone in particular.” — Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“Feminism involves so much more than gender equality. And it involves so much more than gender. Feminism must involve a consciousness of capitalism (I mean, the feminism that I relate to. And there are multiple Feminisms, right). It has to involve a consciousness of capitalism and racism and colonialism and post-colonialities and ability and more genders than we can even imagine, and more sexualities than we ever thought we could name.”
— Angela Davis

“To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.”
— Angela Davis

“We can never assume that the category ‘women’ equally represents all women. [There are] hierarchies of race and class, and now that we have begun to challenge the binary assumptions behind gender, we can say hierarchies of gender as well. Where, for example, does a transgender woman figure into the hierarchy?”
— Angela Davis

“Birth control — individual choice, safe contraceptive methods, as well as abortions when necessary — is a fundamental prerequisite for the emancipation of women.”
— Angela Davis, Women, Race and Class

“Birth control — individual choice, safe contraceptive methods, as well as abortions when necessary — is a fundamental prerequisite for the emancipation of women.” — Angela Davis, Women, Race and Class

Short Quotes

“Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’”
— Angela Davis

“Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’” — Angela Davis

“Particularly in the United States, race has always played a central role in constructing presumptions of criminality.”
— Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?

“Walls turned sideways are bridges.”
— Angela Davis

“Racism is still a factor both within the gay movement and in the way the gay movement is publicly perceived.”
— Angela Davis, in an interview

“We live in a society of an imposed forgetfulness, a society that depends on public amnesia.”
— Angela Davis

“If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the night.”
— Angela Davis

“If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the night.” — Angela Davis

→ Explore more short quotes

More Quotes

“No amount of psychological therapy or group training can effectively address racism in this country unless we also begin to dismantle the structures of racism.”
— Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“No amount of psychological therapy or group training can effectively address racism in this country unless we also begin to dismantle the structures of racism.” — Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

“I raise the importance of historical memory not for the purpose of presenting immutable paradigms for coalition-building, but rather in order to understand historical trajectories and precisely to move beyond older conceptions of cross-racial organizing.”
— Angela Davis, in an interview

“The roots of sexism and homophobia are found in the same economic and political institutions that serve as the foundation of racism in this country and, more often than not, the same extremist circles that inflict violence on people of color are responsible for the eruptions of violence inspired by sexist and homophobic biases. Our political activism must clearly manifest our understanding of these connections.”
— Angela Davis, Women, Culture, and Politics

“The food we eat masks so much cruelty. The fact that we can sit down and eat a piece of chicken without thinking about the horrendous conditions under which chickens are industrially bred in this country is a sign of the dangers of capitalism, how capitalism has colonized our minds. The fact that we look no further than the commodity itself, the fact that we refuse to understand the relationships that underly the commodities that we use on a daily basis. And so food is like that.”
— Angela Davis

“I don’t think we have any alternative other than remaining optimistic. Optimism is an absolute necessity, even if it’s only optimism of the will, as Gramsci said, and pessimism of the intellect.”
— Angela Davis

“I don’t think we have any alternative other than remaining optimistic. Optimism is an absolute necessity, even if it’s only optimism of the will, as Gramsci said, and pessimism of the intellect.” — Angela Davis

Article Details

March 10, 2024 11:55 AM
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