The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998




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Quotations about Human Rights
and Civil Rights



We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. ~Will Rogers


Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself. ~Robert G. Ingersoll, 1888


Thus, the Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to "create" rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be pre-existing. ~Justice William J. Brennan Jr., with whom Justice Thurgood Marshall joins, dissenting, United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 1990


You are a human being. You have rights inherent in that reality. You have dignity and worth that exists prior to law. ~Lyn Beth Neylon, as quoted by Claire King, "By Virtue of Being Human," 1998


Every man wants his rights. Some men want more than their rights. Many do not know what their rights are. A few contend that as to rights, individual, national, or epochal, there are no such things as rights. ~James Henry Potts, "Our Sacred Rights," Every Life a Delight, 1914


Warm with the same benevolence of mind,
Friends to the native rights of human kind...
~Michael Wodhull, Esq. (1740–1816), The Equality of Mankind


On this day, and every day, let us remember our roots as one human family, forever dedicated to upholding the central tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ~Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation — Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week, 2015


And we who have toiled for freedom's law, have we sought for freedom's soul?
Have we learned at last that human right is not a part but the whole?
That nothing is told while the clinging sin remains part unconfessed?
That the health of the nation is periled if one man be oppressed?
~John Boyle O'Reilly, "Crispus Attucks," 1888


Be as beneficent as the sun or the sea, but if your rights as a rational being are trenched on, die on the first inch of your territory. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1832


I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. ~Abraham Lincoln, 1865


      And this freedom will be the freedom of all... For, by a divine paradox, wherever there is one slave there are two. So in the wonderful reciprocities of being, we can never reach the higher levels until all our fellows ascend with us. There is no true liberty for the individual except as he finds it in the liberty of all. There is no true security for the individual except as he finds it in the security of all.
      It is therefore the obligation of the all-of-us to withdraw the foolish permission which we have given to the Few to own the things which should be the common possession of the People... in the interests of justice and brotherhood. ~Edwin Markham, The Man with the Hoe, with Notes by the Author, 1900


It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home. ~Carl T. Rowan, Field Newspaper Syndicate, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1980


No man is above the law and no man is below it... ~Theodore Roosevelt, 1903


Of Equality — As if it harm'd me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself — As if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.  ~Walt Whitman


I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher... but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. ~William Lloyd Garrison, on the issue of slavery, 1831


...rights are not won on paper. They are won only by those who make their voices heard — by activists and militants. Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below. ~Roger Baldwin, 1969


My dream is that as the years go on... that America will come into the full light of the day when all shall know that she puts human rights above all other rights and that her flag is the flag not only of America but of humanity. What other great people has devoted itself to this exalted ideal? ~Woodrow Wilson, Presidential Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1914 July 4th


I have always claimed America didn't want a drink as bad as they wanted the right to take a drink if they did happen to want one. ~Will Rogers





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