Justice is one of the most important ideals in our society. It's what we strive for in order to create a fair and equitable world. 

But what does justice really mean? And how can we achieve it? 

These are tough questions, but thankfully, plenty of inspiring people have tackled them head-on. Here are dozens of the best quotes about justice, from powerful leaders, thinkers, activists, and everyday people alike. 

Read on to gain some insights and be inspired to pursue justice in your own life:

Quotes About Justice

Famous Quotes About Justice

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
— Cornel West

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” — Cornel West

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
Bryan Stevenson

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” — Bryan Stevenson

“Continue to speak out against all forms of injustice to yourselves and others, and you will set a mighty example for your children and for future generations.”
Bernice King

“Continue to speak out against all forms of injustice to yourselves and others, and you will set a mighty example for your children and for future generations.” — Bernice King

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

‍“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” — Benjamin Franklin

“If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.”
— Lilla Watson

“If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.” — Lilla Watson

Environmental Justice

“Environmental injustice is a tangible, intolerable example of an exhibited moral laxity and minimal concern for healthy standards by corporations and political structures based on the race, ethnicity, and class of those being impacted.”
Bernice King

“Environmental injustice is a tangible, intolerable example of an exhibited moral laxity and minimal concern for healthy standards by corporations and political structures based on the race, ethnicity, and class of those being impacted.” — Bernice King

“When we choose to protect others, we are also protecting ourselves. We cannot achieve climate justice, without uplifting and supporting all communities.”
Intersectional Environmentalist

“A vibrant, fair, and regenerative future is possible — not when thousands of people do climate justice activism perfectly but when millions of people do the best they can.”
— Xiye Bastida

“We can't save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people, especially those most often unheard.”
Leah Thomas

“We can't save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people, especially those most often unheard.” — Leah Thomas‍

“Environmental justice, for those of you who may not be familiar with the term, goes something like this: no community should be saddled with more environmental burdens and less environmental benefits than any other.”
— Majora Carter

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
— Ban Ki-moon

Social Justice

“Quick reminder: Kindness and justice are not synonymous. Be kind. And advocate and work for justice. Lives depend on it.”
Bernice King

“Quick reminder: Kindness and justice are not synonymous. Be kind. And advocate and work for justice. Lives depend on it.” — Bernice King

“We have a right to protest for what is right. That’s all we can do. There are people hurting, there are people suffering, so we have an obligation, a mandate, to do something.”
— John Lewis

“Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other — that my liberty depends on you being free too.”
— Barack Obama

“Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other — that my liberty depends on you being free too.” — Barack Obama‍

“Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.”
— John Lewis, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights… it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”
Harvey Milk

“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr

Related: The best quotes about social justice

Racial Justice

“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

“A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option — for peace cannot exist where justice is not served.”
— John Lewis, on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

“People don’t realize what’s really going on in this country. There are a lot things that are going on that are unjust. People aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that this country stands for: freedom, liberty and justice for all.”
— Colin Kaepernick

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
— Nelson Mandela

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”
— Ijeoma Oluo

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” — Ijeoma Oluo

“As long as people can be judged by the color of their skin, the problem is not solved.”
— Oprah Winfrey

“If you’re calling for an end to unrest, but not calling out police brutality, not calling for health care as a human right, not calling for an end to housing discrimination, all you’re asking for is the continuation of quiet oppression.”
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

MLK Quotes About Justice

“We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Malcolm X Quotes About Justice

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
— Malcolm X

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” — Malcolm X

“The only way we'll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world.”
— Malcolm X

“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”
— Malcolm X

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
— Malcolm X

“I am neither a fanatic nor a dreamer. I am a Black man who loves peace, and justice, and loves his people.”
— Malcolm X

James Baldwin Quotes About Justice

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
— James Baldwin

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” — James Baldwin

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
— James Baldwin

“If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected — those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! — and listens to their testimony.”
— James Baldwin

“Ask any Mexican, any Puerto Rican, any Black man, any poor person - ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it. It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
— James Baldwin

“Words like ‘freedom,’ ‘justice,’ ‘democracy’ are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.”
— James Baldwin

bell hooks Quotes On Social Justice

“Without justice there can be no love.”
— bell hooks

“Without justice there can be no love.” — bell hooks

“If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice.”
— bell hooks

“Feminist politics aims to end domination, to free us to be who we are - to live lives where we love justice, where we can live in peace. Feminism is for everybody.”
— bell hooks

“Justice is possible without equality, I believe, because of compassion and understanding. If I have compassion, then if I have more than you, which is unequal, I will still do the just thing by you.”
— bell hooks

“Justice demands integrity. It’s to have a moral universe — not only know what is right or wrong but to put things in perspective, weigh things. Justice is different from violence and retribution; it requires complex accounting.”
— bell hooks

“The greatest movement for social justice our country has ever known is the civil rights movement and it was totally rooted in a love ethic.”
— bell hooks

“Feminist thinking teaches us all, especially, how to love justice and freedom in ways that foster and affirm life.”
— bell hooks

“The world would be a paradise of peace and justice if global citizens shared a common definition of love which would guide our thoughts and action.”
— bell hooks

Quotes About Equality and Justice

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”
— Nelson Mandela

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” — Nelson Mandela

“Women’s rights are not only an abstraction, a cause; it is also a personal affair. It is not only about us; it is also about me and you. Just the two of us.”
— Toni Morrison

“Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”
Coretta Scott King

Short Quotes For Students

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”
— John Lewis

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.” — John Lewis

“Love is not passive. It is active, transformative, and just.”
Bernice King

“If now isn’t a good time for the truth, I don’t see when we’ll get to it.”
— Nikki Giovanni

“Justice is doing for others what we would want done for us.” 
Gary Haugen, on Sounds Good

On Fighting For Justice

“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change.”
― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change.” ― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

“Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.”
— John Lewis

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

“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

“Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.”
― John Lewis, Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

“To refuse to listen to someone’s cries for justice and equality until the request comes in a language you feel comfortable with is a way of asserting your dominance over them in the situation.”
― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

Related: The best quotes about activism

Food Justice Quotes

“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.”
Bryan Stevenson, social justice activist & death penalty abolitionist

“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.” — Bryan Stevenson, social justice activist & death penalty abolitionist

“For me, an area of moral clarity is: you're in front of someone who's suffering and you have the tools at your disposal to alleviate that suffering or even eradicate it, and you act.”
Paul Farmer

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

“We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.”
— Jimmy Carter

“Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in human will.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth…these are one and the same fight.”
— Ban Ki-moon

“Hunger is not an issue of charity. It is an issue of justice.”
— Jacques Diouf

Related: The best quotes about hunger

Related: The best quotes about poverty

Restorative Justice Quotes

“If our social justice is guided by retribution, we will simply perpetuate the use and abuse of power to inflict violence.”
— Jamie Arpin-Ricci

“If our social justice is guided by retribution, we will simply perpetuate the use and abuse of power to inflict violence.” — Jamie Arpin-Ricci

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Justice and revenge are not the same thing.
Justice is a continuum that includes accountability, change toward preventing further injustice, strategic hope, etc.
As my father said, ‘Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.’”

Bernice King

“Justice and revenge are not the same thing. Justice is a continuum that includes accountability, change toward preventing further injustice, strategic hope, etc. As my father said, ‘Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.’” — Bernice King

“Restorative Justice is respect. Respect for all, even those who are different from us; even those who seem to be our enemies. Respect reminds us of our interconnectedness, but also of our differences. Respect insists we balance concerns for all parties. If we pursue justice as respect, we will do justice restoratively.”
— Howard Zehr

“Forgiving is not forgetting; it’s actually remembering — remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.” 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Forgiving is not forgetting; it’s actually remembering — remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”  — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“People respond in accordance to how you relate to them. If you approach them on the basis of violence, that’s how they will react. But if you say, we want peace, we want stability, we can then do a lot of things that will contribute towards the progress of our society.”
— Nelson Mandela

“The restorative justice movement is grounded in values that promote both accountability and healing for all affected by crime.”
— Mark Umbreit

“Justice will not be served if we maintain our exclusive focus on the questions that drive our current justice systems: What laws have been broken? Who did it? What do they deserve? True justice requires, instead, that we ask questions such as these — Who has been hurt? What do they need? Whose obligations and responsibilities are these? Who has a stake in this situation? What is the process that can involve the stakeholders in finding a solution?”
― Howard Zehr, The Little Book of Restorative Justice

“Retributive theory believes that pain will vindicate, but in practice that is often counterproductive for both victim and offender. Restorative justice theory, on the other hand, argues that what truly vindicates is acknowledgment of victims’ harms and needs, combined with an active effort to encourage offenders to take responsibility, make right the wrongs, and address the causes of their behavior. By addressing this need for vindication in a positive way, restorative justice has the potential to affirm both victim and offender and to help them transform their lives.”
— Howard Zehr, The Little Book of Restorative Justice

“Retributive theory believes that pain will vindicate, but in practice that is often counterproductive for both victim and offender. Restorative justice theory, on the other hand, argues that what truly vindicates is acknowledgment of victims’ harms and needs, combined with an active effort to encourage offenders to take responsibility, make right the wrongs, and address the causes of their behavior. By addressing this need for vindication in a positive way, restorative justice has the potential to affirm both victim and offender and to help them transform their lives.” — Howard Zehr, The Little Book of Restorative Justice

“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

“Through non-violence, courage displaces fear; love transforms hate. Acceptance dissipates prejudice; hope ends despair. Peace dominates war; faith reconciles doubt. Mutual regard cancels enmity. Justice for all overthrows injustice. The redemptive community supersedes systems of gross social immorality.”
— Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Jr.

“Restorative justice expands the circle of stakeholders—those with a stake or standing in the event or the case—beyond just the government and the offender to include victims and community members also.”
― Howard Zehr, The Little Book of Restorative Justice

“For it isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Violence produces only something resembling justice, but it distances people from the possibility of living justly, without violence.”
— Leo Tolstoy

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”
— Dorothy Thompson

More Motivational Quotes

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”
— Ernesto Che Guevara

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.” — Ernesto Che Guevara

“Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.”
— Blaise Pascal

“Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

“The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.”
— Lois McMaster Bujold

“The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.” — Lois McMaster Bujold

“Never pray for justice, because you might get some.”
— Margaret Atwood

“Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

“We can say ‘Peace on Earth.’ We can sing about it, preach about it or pray about it, but if we have not internalized the mythology to make it happen inside is, then it will not be.”
— Betty Shabazz

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
Frederick Douglass

“Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr

“Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” — Reinhold Niebuhr

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

“It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered.”
— Aristotle

“Love is not a weak, spineless emotion; it is a powerful moral force on the side of justice.”
Bernice King