Wise and “woke” people have existed for centuries. Here are some teachers who keep me inspired.


“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” Thich Nhat Hahn


“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson


“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” – James Baldwin


“[White people] are…still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they can not be released from it.” – James Baldwin


“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” – Desmond Tutu


“The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have.” – Paulo Freire


” … do not congratulate yourself that you have solved anything. In simple language, you have sold out, surrendered, given up. It takes strength to affirm the highest prerogative of your spirit. And you will find that if you do, a host of invisible angels will wing to your defense, and the glory of the living God will envelop your surroundings because in you He has come into His own. Give me the strength to be free.” – Howard Thurman


“Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do — and let them form their own all-white groups, to work trying to convert other white people who are thinking and acting so racist. We will meanwhile be working among our own kind. Working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people actually will be working together.” – Malcolm X


“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to explore. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare.” – Muhammad Ali


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela


“Justice is what love looks like in public.” – Dr. Cornell West


“Try not to resist the changes that come your way.  Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” – mevlana jelaluddin rumi – 13th century


“I don’t know where we’re going. I just agreed to go.” – unknown


“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide


“Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill


“… the most difficultly struggle you have will not be against lumbering companies, it will not be against multinational corporations which pollute the Earth. The most difficult struggle you ‘ll have will be to cleanse your heart of racism – from the assumption that what you have to say is so important. You are a minority in the world – you need to really understand that for you to grow.” – Dhoruba Bin-Wahad


“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung


“Prejudice is a burden which confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.” -Maya Angelou


“I speak Americans, for your own good. We must and shall be free, in spite of you. You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery, to enrich you and your children, but God will deliver us from under you. And woe, woe, will be, to you if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting. Throw away your fears and prejudices then enlighten us and treat us like men, and we will like you more than we do now hate you.” – David Walker, 1829


“Give a man of color an equal opportunity with the white from the cradle to manhood, and from manhood to the grave, and you would discover the dignified statesman, the man of science, and the philosopher.” – Maria Stewart, 1833


“Whites tend to see full equality of opportunity as an idealized goal, and they measure progress by comparing the present to the past, noting how far society has come. But African Americans and other nonwhites are more likely to see the racial equality as a necessary condition for justice and to judge current racial inequalities against a future of equal opportunity, which still seems far off.“ – Dr. Ronald M. Davis


“Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think, and act for myself. Whenever the white men treat the Indian as they treat each other then we shall have no wars.” – Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, 1879


“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” – Cesar Chavez,


“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrong doing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?” – Bell Hooks


“Race is not a cause, it’s a part of becoming fully human.” – Dr. Billie Mayo


“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”- Rainer Maria Rilke


“Changing your mind is one of the best ways of finding out whether or not you still have one.” – Taylor Mali


“We have forgotten we belong to each other.” – Mother Theresa


“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, 
there is a field. I’ll meet you there. 

When the soul lies down in that grass, 
the world is too full to talk about. 
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.” – mevlana jelaluddin rumi, 13th century


“There is no social-change fairy. There is only change made by the hands of individuals.” – Winona LaDuke


“All social justice is science fiction. We are creating a world that does not yet exist.” – Dream Hampton


“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


Quotation marks found at https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-styleguide/chapter/quotation-marks/