What is in your hands to make a difference in the world? This is a question for each of us to ponder throughout our life’s journey. Could you be the one who plants the seeds for the promotion of environmental sustainability (like Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement), fair sentencing (like Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative), or children’s rights (like Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund)? Each of us have a unique set of gifts and talents which can be employed to lead social change. Therefore, our daily challenge is to be a wise steward over our gifts.
Our daily challenge is to pick up our mantles of leadership and leave the world a better place than how we found it. This begins with the recognition that leaders have the power of influence. The influence to lift your voice for justice, change laws & policies, and cultivate people power.
These quotes will provide you with the inspiration to move from the sidelines to the full court of social action by becoming an active participant in the quest for justice and freedom for all. You will gain insights into how leaders have leveraged their influence to challenge marginalization and oppression. Each quote, will provide you with the inspiration to discover the leader within:
1) I had learned early in life that if you want something, you had better make some noise. Malcolm X
2) The freedom we are looking for is the freedom to be ourselves, to express ourselves. Don Miguel Ruiz
3) Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann
4) The function of freedom is to free someone else. Toni Morrison
5) There is always time to make right what is wrong. Susan Griffin
6) Freedom is never given; it is won. Philip Randolph
7) Until we are all free, we are none of us free. Emma Lazarus
8) Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Khalil Gibran
9) They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds. Mexican Proverb
10) Liberty for all; chains for none. Frederick Douglass
11) We cannot be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
12) Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it. Malcolm X
13) Men must not only know, they must act. W.E.B. Dubois
14) Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
15) When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
16) The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative. Paul Robeson
17) In a gentle way, you can shake the world. Mahatma Gandhi
18) The process of democracy is one of change. Our laws are not frozen into immutable form, they are constantly in the process of revision in response to the needs of a changing society. Justice Thurgood Marshall
19) Everyone wants a voice in human freedom. There’s a fire burning inside of all of us. Lech Walesa
20) Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public. Cornel West
21) If you join a fight for social justice you may win or lose, but just by being part of the struggle, you win, and your life will be better for it. Howard Zinn
22) You lose nothing when fighting for a cause… In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about. Muhammad Ali
23) It’s time for those of us who have a voice to speak out for life, for love and for justice […] Chaka Khan
24) When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him. Bayard Rustin
25) The new definition of freedom today is self-determination. John Hope Bryant
Each of these quotes connect leadership with a moral imperative to take action. Change requires action and action is an exercise of power. You have the power to transform lives and communities. How will you leverage leadership for social justice?