We all know that social justice is important. It's something we talk about, tweet about, and march for. But what does it really mean? And how can we make sure that we're living it every day?

In this article, you'll find some of the best quotes about social justice from people who have dedicated their lives to making the world a more equitable place. We hope they inspire you to do the same.

P.S. You can read more quotes about justice and other positive quotes in our most popular quote roundups.

The Best Quotes About Social Justice

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

“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

“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

“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation.”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation.” — Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

“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

“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

Quotes on Activism & Taking Action

“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

“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

“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

“When you get these jobs you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
— Toni Morrison

“When you get these jobs you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.” — Toni Morrison

“Power concedes nothing without an organized demand”
— Charlene Carruthers

“Power concedes nothing without an organized demand” — Charlene Carruthers

“Don't sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity to come along — find something and make it an opportunity.”
— Cecile Richards, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead

“I think each village was meant to feel pity for its own sick and poor whom it can help and I doubt if it is the duty of any private person to fix his mind on ills which he cannot help. This may even become an escape from the works of charity we really can do to those we know. God may call any one of us to respond to some far away problem or support those who have been so called. But we are finite and he will not call us everywhere or to support every worthy cause. And real needs are not far from us.”
— C.S. Lewis

“Your vocation can be found where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”
Frederick Buechner

“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

“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

“Our freedoms are vanishing. If you do not get active to take a stand now against all that is wrong while we still can, then maybe one of your children may elect to do so in the future, when it will be far more riskier — and much, much harder.”
— Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

→ Read more quotes about activism

MLK Quotes

“And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.’”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“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.

bell hooks Quotes on Social Change

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

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

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.”
— bell hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism

“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

“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 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 For Students

“You have to get over the fear of facing the worst in yourself. You should instead fear unexamined racism. Fear the thought that right now, you could be contributing to the oppression of others and you don't know it. But do not fear those who bring that oppression to light. Do not fear the opportunity to do better.”
— Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

“You have to get over the fear of facing the worst in yourself. You should instead fear unexamined racism. Fear the thought that right now, you could be contributing to the oppression of others and you don't know it. But do not fear those who bring that oppression to light. Do not fear the opportunity to do better.” — Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

“In a society that functions optimally, those who can should naturally want to provide for those who can't. That's how it's designed to work. I truly believe we're here to take care of one another.”
— LeVar Burton

“In a society that functions optimally, those who can should naturally want to provide for those who can't. That's how it's designed to work. I truly believe we're here to take care of one another.” — LeVar Burton

“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

Quotes on Social Injustice

“Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.”
— Angela Davis

“The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Quotes on Systemic Injustice

“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”
— Dorothy Day

“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.” — Dorothy Day

“Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe.”
— Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire

“There is no such thing as nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups.”
— Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

On Maintaining Hope in the Face of Injustice

“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.”
— Paul Hawken

“There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”
Amanda Gorman

"I want to be nurturing life when I go down in struggle. I want nurturing life to be my struggle."
— Zainab Amadahy

“The reality is this: If we don’t make time to close our eyes, breathe deeply, push beyond the binds we’re in, and visualize a day when they don’t exist, we can never truly be free.”
— Akiba Solomon & Kenrya Rankin

→ Read more quotes about hope

On the Injustice of Poverty

“Innovation comes, in science, by the people who are able to pull something apart with such insight and knowledge that they can then innovate, and they can create new — it’s how we make progress. And I think the same is true in the justice sector, that we cannot make progress in creating a more just society, healthier communities, if we allow ourselves to be disconnected from the people who are most vulnerable — from the poor, the neglected, the incarcerated, the condemned. If you’re trying to make policies in the criminal justice space but have never met someone who’s in a jail or prison, you haven’t been to a jail or prison, you’re going to fail.”
Bryan Stevenson

“I think sometimes, when you’re trying to do justice work, when you’re trying to make a difference, when you’re trying to change the world, the thing you need to do is get close enough to people who are falling down, get close enough to people who are suffering, close enough to people who are in pain, who’ve been discarded and disfavored — to get close enough to wrap your arms around them and affirm their humanity and their dignity.”
Bryan Stevenson

“In this increasingly interconnected world, we must understand that what happens to poor people is never divorced from the actions of the powerful. Certainly, people who define themselves as poor may control their own destinies to some extent. But control of lives is related to control of land, systems of production, and the formal political and legal structures in which lives are enmeshed. With time, both wealth and control have become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. The opposite trend is desired by those working for social justice.”
Paul Farmer

→ Read more quotes about poverty

More Sayings and Slogans

“Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive.”
— Marianne Faithful

“Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive.” — Marianne Faithful

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.”
Bryan Stevenson

“Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.
We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.
So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don't personally have a kid in school: It's because I don't like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.”

— John Green

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“By acting compassionately, by helping to restore justice and to encourage peace, we acknowledge that we are all part of one another.”
— Ram Dass

“By acting compassionately, by helping to restore justice and to encourage peace, we acknowledge that we are all part of one another.” — Ram Dass

“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