110 Angela Davis Quotes

Here are the Top 110 Angela Davis quotes that will help you understand her vital role in the world of inequality and reform. So, if you’re on the hunt for some quotes that tackle politics, racism, and justice, then this list will fight right up your alley.

As an American Black activist, Angela Davis is known for her work, influence, and action on racial injustice, feminism and women’s rights, and prison reform.

Check out the list below to know more.

Best Angela Davis Quotes

Angela Davis Quote - I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.Pin

1. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

2. “Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.”

3. “If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the night.”

4. “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world, and you have to do it all the time.”

Angela Davis Quote - The idea of freedom is inspiring, but what does it mean?  If you are free in a political sense but have no food, what's that? The freedom to starve?  Pin

5. “The idea of freedom is inspiring, but what does it mean? If you are free in a political sense but have no food, what’s that? The freedom to starve?”

6. “Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’”

7. “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”

8. “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

9. “Prison relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and increasingly, global capitalism.”

Angela Davis Quote - We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.Pin

10. “We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.”

11. “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.”

12. “Pregressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensity social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation.”

13. “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.”

14. “When Obama was elected president, a prisoner said, ‘One Black man in the White House doesn’t make up for one million Black men in the Big House.’”

Angela Davis Quote - It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.Pin

15. “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”

16. “I don’t think we have any alternative other than remaining optimistic.”

17. “We have inherited a fear of memories of slavery.”

18. “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.”

19. “I feel that if we don’t take seriously the ways in which racism is embedded in structures of institutions, if we assume that there must be an identifiable racist who is the perpetrator, then we won’t ever succeed in eradicating racism.”

Angela Davis Quotes on Reform and Imprisonment

Angela Davis Quote -In many ways, you can say that the prison serves as an institution that consolidates the state's inability and refusal to address the most pressing social problems of this era.Pin

20. “In many ways, you can say that the prison serves as an institution that consolidates the state’s inability and refusal to address the most pressing social problems of this era.”

21. “Communities even compete with one another to be the site where new prisons will be constructed because prisons create a significant number of relatively good jobs for their residents.”

22. “Mass imprisonment generates profits as it devours social wealth; and thus, it tends to reproduce the very conditions that lead people to prison.”

23. “More prisons were needed because there was more crime. Yet, many scholars have demonstrated that by the time the prison construction boom began, official crime statistics were already falling.”

24. “In seeking to understand this gendered difference in the perception of prisoners, it should be kept in mind that as the prison emerged and evolved as the major form of public punishment, women continued to be routinely subjected to forms of punishment that have not been acknowledged as such.”

Angela Davis Quote - Psychiatric drugs continue to be distributed far more extensively to imprisoned women than to their male counterparts.Pin

25. “Psychiatric drugs continue to be distributed far more extensively to imprisoned women than to their male counterparts.”

26. “The lawbreaker is thus no longer an evil-minded man or woman, but simply a debtor—a liable person whose duty is to take responsibility for his or her acts, and to assume the duty of repair.”

27. “I think that this is an era where we have to encourage that sense of community particularly at a time when neoliberalism attempts to force people to think of themselves only in individual terms and not in collective terms.”

28. “What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.”

29. “An attempt to create a new conceptual terrain for imagining alternatives to imprisonment involves the ideological work of questioning why ‘criminals’ have been constituted as a class and, indeed, a class of human beings undeserving of the civil and human rights accorded to others.”

Angela Davis Quote - Radical criminologists have long pointed out that the category 'lawbreakers' is far greater than the category of individuals who are deemed criminals. Pin

30. “Radical criminologists have long pointed out that the category ‘lawbreakers’ is far greater than the category of individuals who are deemed criminals since, many point out, almost all of us have broken the law at one time or another.”

31. “The process of trying to assimilate into an existing category in many ways runs counter to efforts to produce radical or revolutionary results.”

32. “Perhaps most important of all, and this is so central to the development of feminist abolitionist theories and practices, we have to learn how to think and act and struggle against that which is ideologically constituted as ‘normal.’”

33. “Prisons are constituted as ‘normal.’”

34. “It takes a lot of work to persuade people to think beyond the bars, and to be able to imagine a world without prisons and to struggle for the abolition of imprisonment as the dominant mode of punishment.”

Angela Davis Quote - We must begin to create a revolutionary, multiracial women's movement that seriously addresses the main issues affecting poor and working-class women. Pin

35. “We must begin to create a revolutionary, multiracial women’s movement that seriously addresses the main issues affecting poor and working-class women.”

36. “How would you explain the popularity of this narrative that the oppressed have to ensure the safety of the oppressors? Placing the question of violence at the forefront almost inevitably serves to obscure the issues that are at the center of struggles for justice.”

37. “Every change that has happened has come as a result of mass movements.”

38. “Imprisonment is increasingly used as a strategy of deflection of the underlying social problems—racism, poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and so on.”

39. “If you think of the prisoners simply as the objects of the charity of others, you defeat the very purpose of anti-prison work. You are constituting them as an inferior in the process of trying to defend their rights.”

Angela Davis Quote - The massive prison-building project that began in the 1980s created the means of concentrating and managing what the capitalist system had implicitly declared to be a human surplus.Pin

40. “The massive prison-building project that began in the 1980s created the means of concentrating and managing what the capitalist system had implicitly declared to be a human surplus.”

41. “We thus think about imprisonment as a fate reserved for others—a fate reserved for the ‘evildoers.’”

42. “The prison, therefore, functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of the responsibility of thinking about the real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in such disproportionate numbers.”

43. “Moreover, the prison sentence, which is always computed in terms of time, is related to abstract quantification—evoking the rise of science and what is often referred to as the Age of Reason.”

44. “The computability of state punishment in terms of time—days, months, years—resonates with the role of labor-time as the basis for computing the value of capitalist commodities.”

Angela Davis Quote - Marxist theorists of punishment have noted that precisely the historical period during which the commodity form arose is the era during which penitentiary sentences emerged as the primary form of punishment.Pin

45. “Marxist theorists of punishment have noted that precisely the historical period during which the commodity form arose is the era during which penitentiary sentences emerged as the primary form of punishment.”

46. “The majority of people who are in prison are there because society has failed them.”

47. “The challenge of the twenty-first century is not to demand equal opportunity to participate in the machinery of oppression. Rather, it is to identify and dismantle those structures in which racism continues to be embedded.”

48. “Why were people so quick to assume that locking away an increasingly large proportion of the U.S. population would help those who live in the free world feel safer and more secure?”

49. “Why do prisons tend to make people think that their own rights and liberties are more secure than they would be if prisons did not exist?”

Angela Davis Quotes on Racism and Discrimination

Angela Davis Quote - If we do not know how to meaningfully talk about racism, our actions will move in misleading directions.Pin

50. “If we do not know how to meaningfully talk about racism, our actions will move in misleading directions.”

51. “One of the reasons that so many people of color and poor people are in prison is that the deindustrialization of the economy has led to the creation of new economies and the expansion of some old ones.”

52. “If indeed all lives mattered, we would not need to emphatically proclaim that ‘Black Lives Matter.’”

53. “The roots of sexism and homophobia are found in the same economic and political institutions that serve as the foundation of racism in this country and, more often than not, the same extremist circles that inflict violence on people of color are responsible for the eruptions of violence inspired by sexist and homophobic biases.”

54. “We cannot truly tell what we consider to be our own histories without knowing the other stories. And often, we discover that those other stories are actually our own stories.”

Angela Davis Quote - How is it possible to solve the massive problem of racist state violence by calling upon individual police officers to bear the burden of that history.Pin

55. “How is it possible to solve the massive problem of racist state violence by calling upon individual police officers to bear the burden of that history and to assume that by prosecuting them, by exacting our revenge on them, we would have somehow made progress in eradicating racism?”

56. “If Black people had simply accepted a status of economic and political inferiority, the mob murders would probably have subsided. But because vast numbers of ex-slaves refused to discard their dreams of progress, more than ten thousand lynchings occurred during the three decades following the war.”

57. “Deviant men have been constructed as criminals, while deviant women have been constructed as insane.”

58. “It is essential to resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding community of struggle.”

59. “‘Woman’ was the test, but not every woman seemed to qualify.”

Angela Davis Quote - Black women, of course, were virtually invisible within the protracted campaign for woman suffrage.Pin

60. “Black women, of course, were virtually invisible within the protracted campaign for woman suffrage.”

61. “As it turned out, the working women themselves did not enthusiastically embrace the cause of woman suffrage.”

62. “If Black people, by means of terror and violence, could remain the most brutally exploited group within the swelling ranks of the working class, the capitalists could enjoy a double advantage.”

63. “When Black women stand up—as they did during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, as they did during the Black liberation era—earth-shaking changes occur.”

64. “No amount of psychological therapy or group training can effectively address racism in this country, unless we also begin to dismantle the structures of racism.”

Angela Davis Quote - Judged by the evolving nineteenth-century ideology of femininity, which emphasized women's roles as nurturing mothers and gentle  companions and housekeepers for their husbands, Black women were practically anomalies.Pin

65. “Judged by the evolving nineteenth-century ideology of femininity, which emphasized women’s roles as nurturing mothers and gentle companions and housekeepers for their husbands, Black women were practically anomalies.”

66. “If one looks at the history of struggles against racism in the US, no change has ever happened simply because the president chose to move in a more progressive direction.”

67. “Despite the importance of antiracist social movements over the last half century, racism hides from view within institutional structures, and its most reliable refuge is the prison system.”

68. “Whoever challenged the racial hierarchy was marked a potential victim of the mob.”

69. “The endless roster of the dead came to include every sort of insurgent—from the owners of successful Black businesses and workers pressing for higher wages, to those who refused to be called ‘boy,’ and the defiant women who resisted white men’s sexual abuses.”

Angela Davis Quote - In the case of the United States, Black and Native lives are systematically choked by an enduring white supremacy that thrives on oppression and settler colonialism. Pin

70. “In the case of the United States, Black and Native lives are systematically choked by an enduring white supremacy that thrives on oppression and settler colonialism.”

71. “Regimes of racial segregation were not disestablished because of the work of leaders and presidents and legislators, but rather because of the fact that ordinary people adopted a critical stance in the way in which they perceived their relationship to reality.”

72. “Black feminism emerged as a theoretical and practical effort demonstrating that race, gender, and class are inseparable in the social worlds we inhabit.”

73. “At the time of its emergence, Black women were frequently asked to choose whether the Black movement or the women’s movement was most important. The response was that this was the wrong question.”

74. “Trans women have to fight to be included within the category ‘woman’ in a way that is not dissimilar from the earlier struggles of Black women and women of color who were assigned the gender female at birth.”

Angela Davis Quote - The very category 'human' has not embraced Black people and people of color. Its abstractness has been colored white and gendered male.Pin

75. “For most of our history, the very category ‘human’ has not embraced Black people and people of color. Its abstractness has been colored white and gendered male.”

76. “Being Black ensures there will be struggle; it doesn’t guarantee the tools to fight back. One myth down. Three thousand to go.”

77. “As ironic as it may seem, the most popular piece of anti-slavery literature of that time perpetuated the racist ideas which justified slavery and the sexist notions which justified the exclusion of women from the political arena where the battle against slavery would be fought.”

78. “Because of the persistent power of racism, ‘criminals’, and ‘evildoers’ are, in the collective imagination, fantasized as people of color.”

79. “Black history is indeed American history, but it is also world history.”

Angela Davis Quotes on Justice and Social Systems

Angela Davis Quote - Whenever you conceptualize social justice struggles, you will always defeat your own purposes.Pin

80. “Whenever you conceptualize social justice struggles, you will always defeat your own purposes if you cannot imagine the people around whom you are struggling as equal partners.”

81. “The most exciting potential of women of color formations resides in the possibility of politicizing this identity—basing the identity on politics rather than the politics on identity.”

82. “Anyway, I don’t think we can rely on governments—regardless of who is in power—to do the work that only mass movements can do.”

83. “Neoliberal ideology drives us to focus on individuals, ourselves, individual victims, individual perpetrators.”

84. “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.”

Angela Davis Quote - Our histories never unfold in isolation.Pin

85. “Our histories never unfold in isolation.”

86. “But there’s a message there for everyone and it is that people can unite, that democracy from below can challenge oligarchy, that imprisoned migrants can be freed, that fascism can be overcome, and that equality is emancipatory.”

87. “The food we eat masks so much cruelty. The fact that we can sit down and eat a piece of chicken without thinking about the horrendous conditions under which chickens are industrially bred in this country is a sign of the dangers of capitalism—how capitalism has colonized our minds. The fact that we look no further than the commodity itself, the fact that we refuse to understand the relationships that underlie the commodities that we use on a daily basis. And so food is like that.”

88. “And then I realized it wasn’t about me at all; it wasn’t about the individual at all. It was about sending a message to large numbers of people whom they thought they could discourage from involvement in the freedom struggles at that time.”

89. “I often like to talk about feminism not as something that adheres to bodies, not as something grounded in gendered bodies, but as an approach—as a way of conceptualizing, as a methodology, as a guide to strategies for struggle. That means feminism doesn’t belong to anyone in particular.”

Angela Davis Quote - How can we produce a sense of belonging to communities in struggle that is not evaporated by the onslaught of our everyday routines?Pin

90. “How can we produce a sense of belonging to communities in struggle that is not evaporated by the onslaught of our everyday routines? How do we build movements capable of generating the power to compel governments and corporations to curtail their violence?”

91. “I would say that as our struggles mature, they produce new ideas, new issues, and new terrains on which we engage in the quest for freedom.”

92. “Like Nelson Mandela, we must be willing to embrace the long walk toward freedom.”

93. “Social realities that may have appeared inalterable, impenetrable, came to be viewed as malleable and transformable; and people learned how to imagine what it might mean to live in a world that was not so exclusively governed by the principle of white supremacy. This collective consciousness emerged within the context of social struggles.”

94. “There is a difference between outcome and impact. Many people assume that because the encampments are gone and nothing tangible was produced, that there was no outcome.”

Angela Davis Quote - When they learned to solve problems without succumbing to the impulse of calling the police, that should serve as a true inspiration for the work that we will do in the future to build these transnational solidarities.Pin

95. “When we think about the impact of these imaginative and innovative actions, and these moments where people learned how to be together without the scaffolding of the state, when they learned to solve problems without succumbing to the impulse of calling the police, that should serve as a true inspiration for the work that we will do in the future to build these transnational solidarities.”

96. “Communities are always political projects—political projects that can never solely rely on identity.”

97. “To reiterate, rather than try to imagine one single alternative to the existing system of incarceration, we might envision an array of alternatives that will require radical transformations of many aspects of our society.”

98. “Alternatives that fail to address racism, male dominance, homophobia, class bias, and other structures of domination will not, in the final analysis, lead to decarceration and will not advance the goal of abolition.”

99. “The freedom movement was expansive. It was about transforming the entire country. It was not simply about acquiring civil rights within a framework that itself would not change.”

Angela Davis Quote - Any critical engagement with racism requires us to understand the tyranny of the universal.Pin

100. “Any critical engagement with racism requires us to understand the tyranny of the universal.”

101. “A major challenge of this movement is to do the work that will create more humane, habitable environments for people in prison without bolstering the permanence of the prison system.”

102. “If we wish to comprehend the nature of sexual violence as it is experienced by women as individuals, we must be cognizant of its social mediations.”

103. “It doesn’t matter that a Black woman heads the national police. The technology, the regimes, the targets are still the same.”

104. “Movements are most powerful when they begin to affect the vision and perspective of those who do not necessarily associate themselves with those movements.”

Angela Davis Quote - Local issues have global ramifications.Pin

105. “Local issues have global ramifications.”

106. “This movement was something so extraordinary, not only because it saved my life—and that was a major accomplishment—but also because it demonstrated that change was possible as a result of organized, mass pressure.”

107. “I think that what is important about the sustained demonstrations that are now happening, is that they are having the effect of refusing to allow these issues to die.”

108. “What can we do? How can we do it? With whom? What tactics should be used? How should we define a strategy that is accessible to everyone, including a general public that has reached levels of depoliticization that can make atrocities seem acceptable? What is our vision? How can we make sure we are talking to everyone?”

109. “It is easy to feel discouraged and simply let go. There is no shame in that.”

Angela Davis Quote - What I do want people to remember is the fact that the movement around the demand for my freedom was victorious. It was a victory against insurmountable odds.Pin

110. “What I do want people to remember is the fact that the movement around the demand for my freedom was victorious. It was a victory against insurmountable odds, even though I was innocent; the assumption was that the power of those forces in the US was so strong that I would either end up in the gas chamber or that I would spend the rest of my life behind bars. Thanks to the movement, I am here with you today.”

Did These Angela Davis Quotes Inspire You to Keep the Fire Going?

With her strong political opinions and actions towards justice and equality, there’s no denying that Angela Davis faced a lot of trials and challenges along the way. In fact, she even gained a reputation internationally when she went on trial and was imprisoned in the early 1970s. However, this roadblock didn’t stop her from touching the lives of people and fighting for freedom. She believed that change and reformation is possible, no matter how hard the premise or consequences are. Angela Davis continues to inspire and fight with us today; and so, we must always remember to keep the fire in our hearts lit up and fight for what’s right for all.

Do you support Angela Davis’ causes? What are your thoughts on feminism, racism, and justice reform? Let us know by commenting down below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

Leave a Comment