Quotations About
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The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.

I Have A Dream (1963)

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)

I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

Speech in Detroit, Michigan, June 23 1963

Faith moves mountains, but you have to keep pushing while you are praying.

Posted in: Mason Cooley

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

Salt from My Attic (1928)
Posted in: John A. Shedd

Natalie: Two guys have ascended five miles into the sky. They walked up a wall of ice, and are preparing to knock on the door of Heaven itself. There’s really no end to what we can do. You know what the trick is?
Dan: What?
Natalie: Get in the game.

The Quality of Mercy at 29K (season 1, episode 9)
Posted in: Sports Night

“This”, cried the Mayor, “is your town’s darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
To come to the aid of their country!”, he said.
“We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”

Horton Hears a Who! (1954)
Posted in: Dr. Seuss

“Don’t give up! I believe in you all.
A person’s a person, no matter how small!
And you very small persons will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!”

Horton Hears a Who! (1954)
Posted in: Dr. Seuss

Oh the things you can find
If you don’t stay behind!

On Beyond Zebra! (1955)
Posted in: Dr. Seuss

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! (1990)
Posted in: Dr. Seuss

Where wise actions are the fruit of life, wise discourse is the pollination.

Posted in: Bryant McGill

Loki: Kneel before me. I said kneel! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.
Old German: Not to men like you.
Loki: There are no men like me.
Old German: There are always men like you.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are —
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Ulysses (1842)
Posted in: Alfred Tennyson

Only a little, it might be. But if every man did the little he could — what a different world!

The Friends of Voltaire (1906)

Howarth began to see that, however much it was against one’s will and convictions, sides had to be taken, the dreary corrupt world of politics had to be entered by the good and dispassionate, to protect and avenge the weak. But one always entered too late.

The Worm and the Ring (1960)
Posted in: Anthony Burgess

If the world is to be improved it must be by the exercise of individual charity.

Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (1965)
Posted in: Anthony Burgess

Ambition is not what a man would do, but what a man does, for ambition without action is fantasy.

Posted in: Bryant McGill

I would encourage people to look around them in their community and find an organization that is doing something that they believe in, even if that organization has only five people, or ten people, or twenty people, or a hundred people. And to look at history and understand that when change takes place it takes place as a result of large, large numbers of people doing little things unbeknownst to one another. And that history is very important for people to not get discouraged. Because if you look at history you see the way the labor movement was able to achieve things when it stuck to its guns, when it organized, when it resisted. Black people were able to change their condition when they fought back and when they organized. Same thing with the movement against the war in Vietnam, and the women’s movement. History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.

Rawstory.com Interview (9 September 2005)
Posted in: Howard Zinn

Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.

"Election Madness" The Progressive (March 2008)
Posted in: Howard Zinn

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Posted in: Howard Zinn

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.

The Neurotic's Notebook (1963)

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

A Tale of Two Cities
Posted in: Charles Dickens

A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

Speech on pulpit, Selma, AL, March 8, 1965. Often condensed into "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.".

Batman: It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

Posted in: Batman Begins

Jane: Run down the list of causes you volunteer for again?
Daria: I protested that book burning last year.
Jane: You yelled at the TV screen.

The Old and the Beautiful (1999)
Posted in: Daria

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

The Lorax (1971)
Posted in: Dr. Seuss

Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.

Table Talk: Essays On Men And Manners (1821-1822)
Posted in: William Hazlitt

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Words from his inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1961

When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion.

Quoted in Herndon's Lincoln (1890)
This quote is attributed / unsourced.
Posted in: Abraham Lincoln

I have learned by experience that no man’s character can be eventually injured but by his own acts.

Posted in: Rowland Hill

Careers are not often as chosen as people think they are. People talk to me about my choices. I don’t make choices, hardly. Things happen, and you say yes or no – usually ‘yes’, because it’s always better to do something. What’s the choice? Somebody will say, ‘Don’t do that part, you don’t need to do that part.’ And I’ll say, ‘Why not? What am I going to do? Sit around the house?’ I’d much rather go to work, and see actors, and have fun.

"Dancing in the Dark", The Guardian. William Leith, January 25, 2003

Once-ler: Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, things aren’t going to get better. They’re not.
Ted: You do know that you are talking in rhyme, don’t you?

Posted in: The Lorax

He was a man who looked at what ought to be done, not to the reputation which is got by a man’s acts.

Meditations (c. 161–180 CE) Book I
Posted in: Marcus Aurelius

In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman.

Evening News newspaper of May 20, 1965. See also Quote Investigator.