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100 Juneteenth Quotes to Remember the Fight for Freedom

1. “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” –

2. “Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.” – Coretta Scott King

3. “If you dare to struggle, you dare to win. If you dare not struggle, then damn it, you don’t deserve to win.” –

4. “I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?” – Sojourner Truth

5. “I knew then and I know now, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it.” –

6. “As Black people, we are told we don’t deserve our own holidays rooted in our own history. Everything is whitewashed.” – Tanesha Grant

7. “Our watchword has been ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ Brave men do not gather by thousands to torture and murder a single individual, so gagged and bound he cannot make even feeble resistance or defense. Neither do brave men and women stand by and see such things done without compunction of conscience, nor read of them without protest.” – Ida B. Wells-Barnett

8. “It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule. That’s where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to , and we never got the 40 acres. We didn’t get the mule. So we decided we’d ride this donkey as far as it would take us.” – Rev Al. Sharpton

9. “If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.” –

10. “We are not ready to fight because we love fighting. We are ready to fight because we are worth fighting for.” – Zoé Samudzi

11. “Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.” –

12. “You must never, ever give out. We must keep the faith because we are one people. We are brothers and sisters. We all live in the same house—the American house.” –

13. “As a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and a member of the Divine 9, Juneteenth is also a time for me to acknowledge the ancestry of my founders and the experiences that led them to create our beloved sorority and to fight for the inclusion of black women in every space. I am humbled to share in the legacy of Juneteenth and understand that this becomes my fight to continue.” – Brianna Taylor

14. “Juneteenth is a reclaim on our history that has been stolen. Juneteenth is greater to us than a Fourth of July or Christmas because it represents our culture, , and deserving respect from a country we built.” – Nia White

15. “Juneteenth reminds me of Black freedom dreams—my freedom dreams.” – Dannese Mapanda

16. “Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved Black Americans to the cause of human freedom. It gives us another way to recognize the central place of slavery and its demise in our national story. And it gives us an opportunity to remember that American democracy has more authors than the shrewd lawyers and erudite farmer-philosophers of the Revolution—that our experiment in liberty owes as much to the men and women who toiled in bondage as it does to anyone else in this nation’s history.” – Jamelle Bouie

17. “Words of Emancipation didn’t arrive until the middle of June so they called it Juneteenth. So that was it, the night of Juneteenth celebration, his mind went on. The celebration of a gaudy illusion.” – Ralph Ellison

18. “We’re in denial of the African holocaust. Most times, people don’t want to talk about it. One is often restless or termed a racist just for having compassion for the African experience, for speaking truth to the trans-Atlantic and Arab slave trades, for speaking truth to the significant omission of our history. We don’t want to sit down and listen to these things, or to discuss them. But we have to.” – Ilyasah Shabazz

19. “My fellow Americans, this is a special moment in our history. Just as people of all faiths and no faiths, and all backgrounds, creeds, and colors banded together decades ago to fight for equality and justice in a peaceful, orderly, nonviolent fashion, we must do so again.” – John Lewis

20. “Juneteenth means so much to me. It represents the freedom that my ancestors fought so tirelessly for. But rather than focusing on the brutalization of my people then and now. I choose to focus on hope.” – Mariah Cooley

21. “I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.” –

22. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Jr.

23. “Liberty is slow fruit. It is never cheap; it is made difficult because freedom is the accomplishment and perfectness of man.” –

24. “Juneteenth, to me, means a lot. When we think about the African Diaspora, and the history rooted in America, and freedom for African Americans, it serves a reminder that there are people before us that have fought for liberation. It shows that even after the emancipation proclamation was signed in 1863, African Americans still were not liberated. It redefined what liberation meant for the African American community here in the US. It showed that our liberation comes from us.” – Fatimata Cham

25. “Juneteenth represents liberation and it belongs to us. It is a constant reminder that Black freedom is predestined—that only we can tell our stories and that there is no freedom, without Black freedom.” – Dannese Mapanda

26. “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” –

27. “Studying the blueprints of liberation, one can map out the ways we as The Global African Diaspora have continued to resist and exist under regimes of anti-Black terror.” – Brandon Gonzalez

28. “Since the development of racial capitalism—the use of African peoples as capital—our ancestors have always fought for freedom.” – Brandon Gonzalez

29. “Emancipation wasn’t a gift bestowed on the slaves; it was something they took for themselves, the culmination of their long struggle for freedom, which began as soon as chattel slavery was established in the 17th century, and gained even greater steam with the Revolution and the birth of a country committed, at least rhetorically, to freedom and equality. In fighting that struggle, black Americans would open up new vistas of democratic possibility for the entire country.” – Jamelle Bouie

30. “Slavery did not end via the efforts of a multiracial movement of abolitionists. Federal officials created the discourse of freedom and removed slaves from the shackles of slavery in order for slaves to work, and the freed slaves needed to work so that the North would not assume that they would carry the financial burden of the decimated Southern economy.” – Ericka Hart

31. “What I love about Juneteenth is that even in that extended wait, we still find something to celebrate. Even though the story has never been tidy, and Black folks have had to march and fight for every inch of our freedom, our story is nonetheless one of progress.” –

32. “Whether it’s freedom to express, freedom to live, freedom to earn, freedom to thrive, freedom to learn, whatever it is, I want to make sure that I’m a part of these spaces and opening doors.” – Angela Rye

33. “Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. They claim it as their own and none can keep it from them.” – Kwame Nkrumah

34. “Today on Juneteenth, we celebrate the end of slavery, the day we memorialize those who offered us hope for the future, and the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom.” –

35. “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” –

36. “The goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

37. “June 19th reminds me that I am the force of power to change this world and to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors to work towards liberation.” – Mariah Cooley

38. “Liberation lies within us and will not be formed from the current institutional structures we have in place for it never has.” – Fatimata Cham

39. “Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.” – Malcolm X

40. “America has looted black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here, looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you. If you want us to do better, then dammit, you do better.” – Tamika Mallory

41. “Say it loud. I’m black and I’m proud!” – James Brown

42. “The American education system has taught us as children that Black people have a history in pain and survival. They have failed to teach us our history in joy, success, innovations and so much more.” – Nia White

43. “On this day, June 19, 1865, Black people’s complete personhood was acknowledged on a systemic level for the very first time. It dates the moment African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans, and Afro-immigrants alike could begin to, on some level, participate in and see themselves as part of a whole society.” – Brianna Taylor

44. “Every Black person you meet is a miracle.” – Brittany Packnett Cunningham

45. “Juneteenth is another moment for me and my loved ones to build an archive of truth and experience of Black folks.” – Tatiana Glover

46. “Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed—I, too, am America.” – James Baldwin

47. “Juneteenth was a promise that was broken. Reconstruction failed and this country has continued to wage war on the Black body.” – O’brian Rosario

48. “Juneteenth also embodies the resilience of Black people. Even in the face of a broken system, we choose to find joy in resistance and celebrate in community.” – O’brian Rosario

49. “As Black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences—experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the . What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point.” – Viola Davis

50. “People say I talk so slow today. That’s no surprise. I calculated I’ve taken 29,000 punches. But I earned $57 million and I saved half of it. So I took a few hard knocks. Do you know how many black men are killed every year by guns and knives without a penny to their names? I may talk slow, but my mind is okay.” – Muhammed Ali

51. “The 4th of July was never about Black people. Juneteenth is just for us.” – Tanesha Grant

52. “Juneteenth symbolizes the hope that my children and will be free. It’s Black joy and Black tenacity to survive.” – Tanesha Grant

53. “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free so other people would be also free.” – Rosa Parks

54. “We Black folk, our history, and our present being, are a mirror of all the manifold experiences of America.” – Richard Wright

55. “What we want, what we represent, what we endure is what America is. If we black folk perish, America will perish.” – Richard Wright

56. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all, including Black women who are often, too often overlooked, but so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.” –

57. “In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing—anti-humanism.” – Shirley Chisholm

58. “Juneteenth is a date that recognizes the end of slavery in the United States. Although Juneteenth is not a day that is celebrated in the UK, it is still a reminder of the injustices black people endured.” – Bethel Kyeza

59. “Juneteenth is important to me because till this day Black people are still subject to racial injustice on a global scale, and are still victims of racial abuse regardless of where they are from.” – Bethel Kyeza

60. “Juneteenth allows us to remember how far Black people have progressed since and it is a reminder of the strength we have within us.” – Bethel Kyeza

61. “Won’t it be wonderful when Black history, and Native American history, and Jewish history, and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.” –

62. “We all require and want respect—man or woman, Black or White. It’s our basic human right.” – Aretha Franklin

63. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” – Colin Kaepernick

64. “Let me tell you, here and now as a black person, we don’t expect charity. We just expect the and dignity, to which the white person is entitled in this world by default.” – Abhijit Naskar

65. “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” – Bayard Rustin

66. “But what a feeling can come over a man just from seeing the things he believes in and hopes for symbolized in the concrete form of a man. In something that gives a focus to all the other things he knows to be real. Something that makes unseen things manifest and allows him to come to his hopes and dreams through his outer eye and through the touch and feel of his natural hand.” – Ralph Ellison

67. “We have suffered discrimination. We have suffered isolation and undermining. But we stand up for America, oftentimes when others who think they are more patriotic, who say they are more patriotic, do not.” – Maxine Waters

68. “I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to—liberty, or death. If I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive.” – Harriet Tubman

69. “One day, our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” – Franklin Thomas

70. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King

71. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King

72. “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” –

73. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.” –

74. “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

75. “We are descended of lineages meant to be destroyed by slavery or colonization. Our lives are hard-fought and hard-earned. We are priceless. We are valuable because of our humanity-and declared valuable because our ancestors declared our worth when they fought for us to live.” – Brittany Packnett Cunningham

76. “Where annual elections end where slavery begins.” –

77. “Juneteenth has become a newly but proudly embraced commemoration in my family and we have been exploring the ways in which we want to experience and culturally embrace the date.” – Tatiana Glover

78. “God is love, I said, but art’s the possibility of forms, and shadows are the source of identity.” – Ralph Ellison

79. “Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” – Ella Fitzgerald

80. “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” –

81. “I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why democracy means everybody but me.” –

82. “Our history doesn’t begin with slavery, but our future depends on us ending the mechanisms of it.” – Brandon Gonzalez

83. “Juneteenth is an extension of that abolitionist spirit where we march forth in reflection of the struggle.” – Brandon Gonzalez

84. “God’s time is always near. He set the North star in the heavens; He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free.” – Harriet Tubman

85. “Everything will change. The only question is growing up or decaying.” – Nikki Giovanni

86. “The persistence of violent White nationalism—these things have deep ugly roots, inextricably tied to slavery and its aftermath. We will be better off unearthing it and airing it out if we really want repair.” – Joy Reid

87. “The day we were free, everyone was free. Why not make it a paid holiday? We deserve that. We want a day that is inclusive to everyone.” – Pharrell Williams

88. “No violence will create peace. To effect change, we must show love in the face of hate and peace in the face of violence.” – Beyonce

89. “My people have a country of their own to go to if they choose—Africa. But this America belongs to them just as much as it does to any of the white races. In some ways even more so, because they gave the sweat of their brow and their blood in slavery so that many parts of America could become prosperous and recognized in the world.” – Josephine Baker

90. “There’s no other race, to me, that has such a tough history for hundreds and hundreds of years, and only the strong survive, so we were the strongest and the most mentally tough, and I’m really proud to wear this color every single day of my life.” – Serena Williams

91. “You may kill me with your hatefulness. But still, like air, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou

92. “There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.” – Michelle Obama

93. “Emancipation was as a result of dedication, hard work, speaking up, and speaking out.” – Sikemi Okunrinboye

94. “For people like me who believe in speaking up and speaking out, for times when we feel overwhelmed, or that laws and the world is moving backwards, it gives me hope. These landmarks from emancipation to the end of segregation and enactment of laws that push us one step closer to equality for all gives me hope. I remain aware that laws alone don’t cause the change, but they give a backing, a recognition, I believe is so important.” – Sikemi Okunrinboye

95. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” – Desmond Tutu

96. “We are going to get out here, I am going to get out here and get something done. We have to wake up America. We have to make America uncomfortable like we’ve been uncomfortable for 400 years.” – Gwen Carr

97. “Do not be silent; there is no limit to the power that may be released through you.” –

98. “Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says, ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow, but you know I was here.’” – Maya Angelou

99. “Every year, we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday.” – Al Edwards



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