70 John Lewis Quotes That Shed Light on Justice and More

Here’s the ultimate list of John Lewis quotes that will leave you wanting more.

From topics like community, perseverance, determination, and morality, this collection covers just about everything he stood for in life.

John Lewis was a U.S. Congressman and a civil rights leader who led the march in Selma, later known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.

He was one of the good, influential people in America who stood for and believed in justice for all—and his life-long dedication to this cause is an undeniable truth.

Check out the full list below.

And make sure to read these Malcolm X quotes and Martin Luther King quotes.

Best John Lewis Quotes

Five Quotes That Could Change Every...
Five Quotes That Could Change Everything
John Lewis Quote - I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe that we have an obligation to condemn speech that is racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, or hateful.

1. “I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe that we have an obligation to condemn speech that is racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, or hateful.”

2. “Rioting is not a movement. It is not an act of civil disobedience.”

3. “Choose confrontation wisely. But when it is your time, don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice.”

4. “Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge.”

John Lewis Quote - Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant.

5. “Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant.”

6. “You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim, or diminish your light.”

7. “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. And if we believe in the change we seek, then it is easy to commit to doing all we can, because the responsibility is ours alone to build a better society and a more peaceful world.”

8. “We are involved now in a serious revolution. This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic, and social exploitation.”

9. “Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy is, will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?”

John Lewis Quote - Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates.

10. “Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates.”

11. “Use the words of the movement to pace yourself.”

12. “Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.”

13. “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”

14. “Fury spends itself pretty quickly when there’s no fury facing it.”

John Lewis Quote - Darkness cannot overcome darkness - only light can do that.

15. “Darkness cannot overcome darkness—only light can do that. Violence can never overcome violence—only peace can do that. Hate can never overcome hate—only love can do that.”

16. “I loved going to the library. It was the first time I ever saw Black newspapers and magazines like JET, Ebony, the Baltimore Afro-American, or the Chicago Defender; and I’ll never forget my librarian.”

17. “Take a long, hard look down the road you will have to travel once you have made a commitment to work for change. Know that this transformation will not happen right away. Change often takes time. It rarely happens all at once.”

18. “I think it is a mistake for people to consider disorganized action, mayhem, and attacks on other people and property as an extension of any kind of movement. It is not. It is simply an explosion of emotion. That’s all. There is nothing constructive about it. It is destructive.”

19. “If you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a beloved community that is finally at peace with itself.”

John Lewis Quotes on Citizenship and Community

John Lewis Quote - As citizens, we knew we had ceded some of our individual rights to society in order to live together as a community.

20. “As citizens, we knew we had ceded some of our individual rights to society in order to live together as a community.”

21. “It is not the role of the citizen to follow the government down a path that violates his or her own conscience.”

22. “When law became suppressive and tyrannical, when human law violated divine principles, we felt it was not only our right, but our duty to disobey.”

23. “We did not believe this social contract included support for an immoral system. Since the people invested in the government with its authority, we understood that we had to obey the law.”

24. “We are one people, one family—the human family—and what affects one of us affects us all.”

John Lewis Quote - I have seen this restlessness among the people before. It was in another millennium, another decade, and at another time in our history,

25. “I have seen this restlessness among the people before. It was in another millennium, another decade, and at another time in our history, but it pushed through America like a storm.”

26. “It is the responsibility, yet the individual choice, of each of us to use the light we have to dispel the work of darkness, because if we do not, then the power of falsehood rises.”

27. “The only reason unjust systems exist is that the masses of people silently give their consent and believe these systems are necessary—whether for their security or survival.”

28. “Becoming aware of the truth requires action, and that is when the struggle begins.”

29. “There is a power that can raise you up even from the lowliest of places and guide you to the forefront of change if you truly want to create a better world.”

John Lewis Quotes on Determination and Fight for Justice

John Lewis Quote - By the force of our demands, our determination, and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand piecesand put them back together in the image of God and democracy.

30. “By the force of our demands, our determination, and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of God and democracy.”

31. “Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.”

32. “In terms of our elected officials, I think we need to ask, ‘How far should we go with our need to know before we completely veer off into the personal and the private and leave behind any chance of having a legitimate debate or discussion or discourse about the issues at hand?’”

33. “The truth marches on; it is not connected to the life of any one individual.”

34. “There was a time when politicians needed to be great orators because the people themselves were grappling with the challenges of conscience—trying to perceive what is right and what is wrong. But today, not only do we miss the eloquence of public speaking, but the moral compass of so many leaders seems to be skewed.”

John Lewis Quote - When a person dies, the dream does not die.

35. “When a person dies, the dream does not die. You can kill a man, but the truth that he stood for will never die.”

36. “All authority emanates from the consent of the governed and the satisfaction of the customer.”

37. “Martin Luther King Jr. said that peace is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.”

38. “The tragedy of their loss was a crisis of faith, but in that struggle, I discovered that you can kill a Medgar Evers or a Jimmie Lee Jackson. You can kill three civil rights workers named Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. You can bomb four innocent little girls in church on a Sunday morning. You can even kill three of the finest leaders of the twentieth century, but you cannot kill the truth they represented.”

39. “When we set our minds against one another, when we focus on destructive energy and propagate the negative notions of separation, division, discrimination, rejection, domination, and war, we waste our power in a futile attempt to debase, degrade, and even destroy the light in others.”

John Lewis Quote - Governments and corporations do not live. They have no power, no capacity in and of themselves.

40. “Governments and corporations do not live. They have no power, no capacity in and of themselves. They are given life and derive all their authority from their ability to assist, benefit, and transform the lives of the people they touch.”

41. “We in the movement decided to actualize our belief that the hatred we experienced was not based on any truth, but was actually an illusion in the minds of those who hated us.”

42. “I could not let myself get lost in a sea of despair, because I had faith that the truth is bigger than all humanity.”

43. “I meet so many ambitious young politicians and leaders who want to jump to the head of the line. They do not know how we arrived at this point in our history as a nation, but they believe they should be appointed to lead us into the future.”

44. “Lynching and vigilantism were considered duties—the necessary protection of men who were guarding the sanctity of social boundaries and the purity of their lineage. No matter the rationale, these ideas put a virtuous face on centuries of brutal history that actually robbed our aggressors of their moral grounding and made them creative participants in violence.”

John Lewis Quote - What is the purpose of a nation if not to empower human beings to live better together than they could individually?

45. “What is the purpose of a nation if not to empower human beings to live better together than they could individually?”

46. “Despite everything that has happened, regardless of the pain of their loss, despite all the other nonviolent peaceful warriors who suffered and sometimes fell, I have never once considered giving up or giving out.”

47. “When the government fails to meet the basic needs of humanity for food, shelter, clothing, and even more important, the room to grow and evolve, the people will begin to rely on one another—to pool their resources and rise above the artificial limitations of tradition or law.”

48. “Each of us has something significant to contribute to society be it physical, material, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual.”

49. “Instead of suggesting that people with cultures and customs we do not understand, people with different color skin, or those who speak another language are somehow beneath us, instead of developing an elaborate rationale to justify our discomfort, it is more honest to simply admit our insecurity and gain acceptance.”

John Lewis Quotes on Wisdom and the Right Thing to Do

John Lewis Quote - It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important.

50. “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important.”

51. “Even though the truth can’t be denied or erased, it can be systemically obscured, strategically misinterpreted, and hidden from mainstream comprehension.”

52. “When you pray, move your feet.”

53. “You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing.”

54. “The power of faith is transformative. It can be utilized in your own personal life to change your individual condition, and it can be used as a lifeline of spiritual strength to change a nation.”

John Lewis Quote - It is so strange to me that we have learned to fly in the air like birds, learned to swim in the ocean like fish, shoot a rocket to the moon, but we have not yet learned how to live together in harmony with one another.

55. “It is so strange to me that we have learned to fly in the air like birds, learned to swim in the ocean like fish, shoot a rocket to the moon, but we have not yet learned how to live together in harmony with one another.”

56. “It takes courage to admit that we participate in killing, violence, and hate around the world. And once you face the truth, it is difficult to retreat back into a state of unconsciousness.”

57. “Real leaders are not appointed. They emerge out of the masses of the people and rise to the forefront through the circumstances of their lives. Either their inner journey or their human experience prepares them to take that role.”

58. “They do not nominate themselves. They are called into service by a spirit moving through a people that points to them as the embodiment of the cause they serve.”

59. “Faith, to me, is knowing in the solid core of your soul that the work is already done, even as an idea is being conceived in your mind. It is being as sure as you are about your dreams as you are about anything you know as a hard fact.”

John Lewis Quote - Some people have told me that I am a rare bird in the blue sky of dreamers.

60. “Some people have told me that I am a rare bird in the blue sky of dreamers.”

61. “We are so comfortable charging forward and succeeding through our aggression and innovation that the idea of patience can seem contrary to our instincts.”

62. “I believed innocently and profoundly as a child that the world could be a better place.”

63. “We called it ‘making a way out of no way.’ So when we were standing in protest facing police dogs and fire hoses, we knew without any doubt that somebody who was greater than us all would make a way out of no way and protect the defenders of the truth.”

64. “We may not be able to stop the violence of others, but we can stop our own. A child is born in innocence, and this violence does not emerge out of thin air. It is created, fomented, and nurtured in them to their detriment.”

John Lewis Quote - The question for us, as a society, is whether we participate, in any way, in the corruption of the defenseless, the undereducated, and the poor in spirit.

65. “The question for us, as a society, is whether we participate, in any way, in the corruption of the defenseless, the undereducated, and the poor in spirit.”

66. “It is only through examining history that you become aware of where you stand within the continuum of change.”

67. “America—a nation destined for greatness, but tarnished by a persistent, nagging untruth.”

68. “We think of ourselves as more enlightened, more developed than the ‘primitive’ peoples our civilizations have supplanted; yet in all our advancement, we are responsible for more death, more suffering, more murder and mayhem than any period in recorded history.”

69. “Soul force is the ability to counter the forces of injustice with fearlessness—knowing that your soul is connected to the greatest force in the universe.”

John Lewis Quote - The work of love, peace, and justice will always be necessary, until their realism and their imperative takes hold of our imagination.

70. “The work of love, peace, and justice will always be necessary, until their realism and their imperative takes hold of our imagination, crowds out any dream of hatred or revenge, and fills up our existence with their power.”

Which of These John Lewis Quotes Made You Want to Become a Hero in Your Own Way?

John Lewis was respected by many because of his regard for the dignity of the other person. He was considered an everyday hero who dedicated his life to fight for justice and equality. He believed that worthwhile and valuable change takes time—and because of this, he persevered. He continued fighting and influencing people until he passed. However, his legacy still lives on and a lot of people still look to him for guidance to make change in their own little ways.

What did you learn from these John Lewis quotes? Are you ready to make your own changes for the betterment of society? Let us know down below.