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50 Stokely Carmichael Quotes on Society, Race, and More

Published on September 24, 2020 7:00 AM EST
50 Stokely Carmichael Quotes on Society, Race, and More

Stokely Carmichael was a political activist who played a pivotal role during the civil rights movement. Learn more about his views on society, racism, and more with the Stokely Carmichael quotes below. 

What do you know about Stokely Carmichael? 

Carmichael, also known as Kwame Ture, was a vibrant, vocal leader and the creator of the “Black Power” movement. He participated in a variety of grassroots organizations including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panther Party, and the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP).

50 Stokely Carmichael Quotes on Society, Race, and More

During his career, Carmichael was one of the original Freedom Riders and constantly fought for the voting rights of Black people. 

Dive into the incredible mind of Stokely Carmichael below. 

Don’t forget to also check out these Thomas Sowell quotes on politics, government, and more.

Powerful Stokely Carmichael quotes

1. “A man is born free.” – Stokely Carmichael

2. “Our grandfathers had to run, run, run. My generation’s out of breath. We ain’t running no more.” – Stokely Carmichael

3. “The first need of a free people is to define their own terms.”  – Stokely Carmichael

4. “The job of the conscious is to make the unconscious conscious.” – Stokely Carmichael

5. “The secret of life is to have no fear; it’s the only way to function.” – Stokely Carmichael

6. “The knowledge I have now is not the knowledge I had then.” – Stokely Carmichael

7. “There is a higher law than the law of government. That’s the law of conscience.” – Stokely Carmichael

8. “One does not fight to influence change and then leave the change to someone else to bring about.” – Stokely Carmichael

9. “We were aware of the fact that death walks hand in hand with struggle.” – Stokely Carmichael

10. “The masses don’t shed their blood for the benefit of a few individuals.” – Stokely Carmichael

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11. “Go home and tell your daughters they are beautiful.” – Stokely Carmichael

12. “The philosophers Camus and Sartre raise the question whether or not a man can condemn himself.” – Stokely Carmichael

13. “I’m convinced that the deck is so stacked that only a certain number can get through. I happened to be one of that certain number. That’s all.” ― Stokely Carmichael

14. “In struggle one not only fights against something–injustice, oppression–but one must struggle for something equally real but positive. That’s the other part of the equation.” ― Stokely Carmichael

15. “Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks.” ― Stokely Carmichael

16. “No man can give anybody his freedom.” ― Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael quotes about U.S. society

17. “They Head Start, Upward Lift, Bootstrap, and Upward Bound us into white society, ’cause they don’t want to face the real problem which is a man is poor for one reason and one reason only: ’cause he does not have money — period. If you want to get rid of poverty, you give people money — period.” – Stokely Carmichael

18. “Capitalism is a stupid system, a backward system.” – Stokely Carmichael

19. “Seems to me that the institutions that function in this country are clearly racist, and that they’re built upon racism.” – Stokely Carmichael

20. “What a liberal really wants is to bring about change that will not in any way endanger his position.” – Stokely Carmichael

21. “Racism gets its power from capitalism. Thus, if you’re anti-racist, whether you know it or not, you must be anti-capitalist. The power for racism, the power for sexism, comes from capitalism, not an attitude.” – Stokely Carmichael

22. “You may enslave a man after he is born free. And that is in fact what this country does. It enslaves black people after they’re born.” – Stokely Carmichael

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23. “Poverty is well calculated in this country. And the reason why the poverty program won’t work is because the calculators of poverty are administering it.”  – Stokely Carmichael

24. “I knew that I could vote and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived.” ― Stokely Carmichael

25. “We are against the draft. No man has the right to take a man for two years and train him to be a killer. A man should decide what he wants to do with his life.” ― Stokely Carmichael

26. “It is we who have picked the cotton for nothing. It is we who are the maids in the kitchens of liberal white people. It is we who are the janitors, the porters, the elevator men. We who sweep up your college floors. Yes it is we who are the hardest workers and the lowest paid.” ― Stokely Carmichael

27. “It is impossible for white and black people to talk about building a relationship based on humanity when the country is the way it is, when the institutions are clearly against us.” ― Stokely Carmichael

28. “Frederick Douglass said the youth should fight to be leaders today. And God knows we need to be leaders today, because the men who run this country are sick.” ― Stokely Carmichael

29. “Now we maintain that we cannot afford to be concerned about 6 percent of the children in this country, black children, who you allow to come into white schools. We have 94 percent who still live in shacks. We are going to be concerned about those 94 percent.” – Stokely Carmichael

30. “In order for America to really live on a basic principle of human relationships a new society must be born. Racism must die. And the economic exploitation of this country of non-white peoples around the world must also die.” – Stokely Carmichael

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31. “We have taken all the myths of the country and we found them to be nothing but downright lies. This country told us that if we worked hard we would succeed, and if that were true we would own this country lock, stock, and barrel.” – Stokely Carmichael

32. “The U.S. cannot justify its existence as the policeman of the world any longer.” – Stokely Carmichael

33. “This country is a nation of thieves. It stole everything it has, beginning with black people.” – Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael quotes about race

34. “I also know that while I am black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me.” – Stokely Carmichael

35. “Now, then, in order to understand white supremacy we must dismiss the fallacious notion that white people can give anybody their freedom.” – Stokely Carmichael

36. “If a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power.” – Stokely Carmichael

37. “We had no more courage than Harriet Tubman or Marcus Garvey had in their times. We just had a more vulnerable enemy.” – Stokely Carmichael

38. “The fact is that all black people often question whether or not they are equal to whites, because every time they start to do something, white people are around showing them how to do it. If we are going to eliminate that for the generation that comes after us, then black people must be seen in positions of power, doing and articulating for themselves.” – Stokely Carmichael

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39. “Integration is a man’s ability to want to move in there by himself. If someone wants to live in a white neighborhood and he is black, that is his choice. It should be his rights. It is not because white people will not allow him.” – Stokely Carmichael

40. “Our noses are broad, our lips are thick, our hair is nappy-we are black and beautiful!” – Stokely Carmichael

41. “Racism is both overt and covert.” – Stokely Carmichael

42. “We are oppressed as a group because we are black. Not because we are lazy. Not because we’re apathetic. Not because we’re stupid. Not because we smell. Not because we eat watermelon and have good rhythm. We are oppressed because we are black.” – Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael quotes about black power

43. “An organization which claims to be working for the needs of a community – as SNCC does – must work to provide that community with a position of strength from which to make its voice heard. This is the significance of black power beyond the slogan.” – Stokely Carmichael

44. “It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.” – Stokely Carmichael

45. “Black power can be clearly defined for those who do not attach the fears of white America to their questions about it.” – Stokely Carmichael

46. “But that we are not going to wait for white people to sanction Black Power. We’re tired of waiting; every time black people move in this country, they’re forced to defend their position before they move. It’s time that the people who are supposed to be defending their position do that, that’s white people. They ought to start defending themselves as to why they have oppressed and exploited us.” – Stokely Carmichael

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Stokely Carmichael quotes about the civil rights movement

47. “Dr. King’s policy was, if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That’s very good. He only made one fallacious assumption. In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.” – Stokely Carmichael

48. “I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people.” – Stokely Carmichael

49. “There has been only a civil rights movement, whose tone of voice was adapted to an audience of liberal whites.” – Stokely Carmichael

50. “So that the failures to pass a civil rights bill isn’t because of Black Power, isn’t because of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; it’s not because of the rebellions that are occurring in the major cities.” – Stokely Carmichael

Have you felt like you couldn’t make a change? 

With 24-hour news cycles and ever-updating social media, you can feel powerless. But, at Everyday Power, we are here to remind you that you do have the power to make a change. Long-term shifts in society typically begin with vocal individuals who are passionate about making a positive change, like Stokely Carmichael.  

Without Carmichael’s relentless pursuit of equality, the activists of today wouldn’t exist. Remember that your voice matters. What you do now will not only help to make a change today but will inspire the generation that comes after you. 

Which of these Stokely Carmichael quotes and sayings is your favorite? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts.

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