A former Girl Scout, a Doctor of Philosophy, a politician, an activist, a writer — all of these titles belong to a single woman. In honor of her bountiful life’s work, check out this list of 28 most impactful Angela Davis quotes.
Whether it’s for women’s rights or the abolishment of the conventional prison system, Davis has never failed to put up a fight. What’s more, she speaks up about social issues and inequality even today, at the age of 76. She’s surely one of the most inspiring women to ever step into politics.
Angela Davis Quotes About Feminism
#1. “To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.”
#2. “Feminism insists on methods of thought and action that urge us to think about things together that appear to be separate, and to disaggregate things that appear to naturally belong together.”
#3. “No march, movement, or agenda that defines manhood in the narrowest terms and seeks to make women lesser partners in this quest for equality can be considered a positive step.”
#4. “Black women have had to develop a larger vision of our society than perhaps any other group. They have had to understand white men. And they have had to understand themselves. When black women win victories, it is a boost for virtually every segment of society.”
#5. “I’m a feminist so I believe in inhabiting contradictions. I believe in making contradictions productive, not in having to choose one side or the other side. As opposed to choosing either or, choosing both.”
Angela Davis Quotes About Race and Racism
#6. “If we do not know how to meaningfully talk about racism, our actions will move in misleading directions.”
#7. “In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
#8. “Well of course there’s been a great deal of progress over the last 40 years. We don’t have laws that segregate black people within the society any longer.”
#9. “Racism is a much more clandestine, much more hidden kind of phenomenon, but at the same time it’s perhaps far more terrible than it’s ever been.”
#10. “Racism, in the first place, is a weapon used by the wealthy to increase the profits they bring in by paying Black workers less for their work.”
#11. “In a sense, the quest for the emancipation of black people in the U.S. has always been a quest for economic liberation, which means to a certain extent that the rise of black middle class would be inevitable.”
#12. “Racism cannot be separated from capitalism.”
#13. “As soon as my trial was over, we tried to use the energy that had developed around my case to create another organization, which we called the National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression.”
Angela Davis Quotes About Prisons
#14. “Well, for one, the 13th amendment to the constitution of the U.S. which abolished slavery — did not abolish slavery for those convicted of a crime.”
#15. “I’m suggesting that we abolish the social function of prisons.”
#16. “Poor people, people of color — especially are much more likely to be found in prison than in institutions of higher education.”
#17. “Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo – obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.”
#18. “[Prison] relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism, and, increasingly, global capitalism.”
Inspirational Angela Davis Quotes to Brighten Up Your Day
#19. “I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change… I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”
#20. “It is easy to feel discouraged and simply let go. There is no shame in that. We are, after all, engaged in a struggle that seems, if we look at it using a mainstream political framework and through a mass media prism, unwinnable. On the other hand, if we take a step back, look at things from a broader angle, reflecting on what is happening all over the world and the history of struggle, the history of solidarity movements, it becomes clear, sometimes even obvious, that seemingly indestructible forces can be, thanks to people’s willpower, sacrifices, and actions, easily broken.”
#21. “We should seek out all the doors which still remain ajar, however slight the opening might be.”
#22. “The process of empowerment cannot be simplistically defined in accordance with our own particular class interests. We must learn to lift as we climb.”
#23. “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.”
#24. “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.”
#25. “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”
#26. “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”
#27. “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.”
#28. “I think that has to do with my awareness that in a sense we all have a certain measure of responsibility to those who have made it possible for us to take advantage of the opportunities.”
The words Angela Davis spoke back in the late 60s are still right on the nose today. People truly do need to unite and tackle their deeply-rooted social problems.
However, in order to do that, a change of heart needs to happen — one that will lift people’s spirits and make them want to put up a fight in the first place.
So, whenever you feel discouraged, turn to these Angela Davis quotes to awaken the revolutionary in you.