20 Quotes About Power And Social Change – People Known For Breaking Boundaries

In a world that is constantly evolving, the concepts of power and social change remain at the forefront of our collective consciousness. These themes have been explored, dissected, and reflected upon through various mediums, with quotes being one of the most potent forms of expression.

Whether you are an activist, a student, or simply someone interested in understanding the dynamics of power and society, this compilation of powerful quotes aims to enlighten and inspire.

Focus on Power

Michel Foucault

Power is a multifaceted concept, influencing every aspect of our lives and society. It shapes our relationships, structures, and the very fabric of our world.

“Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.” – Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, provides a nuanced perspective on power, challenging traditional notions of it being a fixed resource or entity. He emphasizes the complexity and fluidity of power, highlighting its pervasive nature across various societal structures. This quote encourages us to think critically about power, urging us to recognize its omnipresence and the subtle ways it operates within our lives.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

Alice Walker, a renowned author and activist, touches on the theme of personal empowerment in this impactful quote. She highlights a common pitfall many fall into, which is the underestimation of their own power and influence. Walker encourages individuals to recognize and embrace their inherent power, advocating for a proactive stance in life.

The Role of Social Change

Barack Obama


Social change is an inevitable part of society, driving progress and transformation. It challenges existing norms and paves the way for a more equitable world.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi, a leader in the Indian independence movement, encapsulates the essence of proactive social change in this timeless quote. He emphasizes the importance of individual responsibility and the power of leading by example. Gandhi’s words inspire a sense of agency, encouraging individuals to take active roles in shaping the society they desire.

“Change is never easy, but always possible.” – Barack Obama

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, acknowledges the challenges inherent in social change while maintaining an optimistic outlook. He recognizes the difficulties that come with challenging the status quo, but assures us that change is within reach. Obama’s words provide a balanced perspective, acknowledging the hurdles while encouraging perseverance.

Social Turmoils

Martin Luther King Quotes

Power and social change are intrinsically linked, with one influencing the other in various ways. Understanding this relationship is crucial in navigating the complexities of society.

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr., a leader in the American civil rights movement, highlights the delicate balance between power and love in this profound quote. He emphasizes the need for a harmonious relationship between the two, advocating for a compassionate exercise of power. King’s words remind us of the potential dangers of power when devoid of empathy and the ineffectiveness of love without the strength to enact change. He is the best example of becoming an essential role in a social movement.

“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist and poet, touches on the theme of individuality and the courage to stand against societal norms. He emphasizes the importance of staying true to one’s beliefs and preferences, even in the face of external pressures. Stevenson’s words inspire a sense of authenticity and resilience, encouraging us to maintain our integrity in a world that often demands conformity.

Inspiring Quotes for Action

Angela Davis

Quotes have the power to inspire, motivate, and catalyze action. Here, we explore a selection of empowering quotes that encourage us to take a stand and make a difference.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman and philosopher, highlights the importance of action in the face of injustice. He reminds us that complacency and inaction can lead to the perpetuation of evil. Burke’s words serve as a call to arms, urging us to take a stand and actively participate in the fight against injustice.

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis

Angela Davis, an American political activist, scholar, and author, embodies the spirit of resistance and empowerment in this powerful quote. She challenges the traditional narrative of acceptance, urging us to question and change the status quo. Davis’ words inspire a sense of agency and determination, encouraging us to take control of our circumstances and fight for a better world.

Change Can be Challenging

Mahatma Gandhi

Change, while necessary for progress, often comes with its own set of challenges. Understanding how to navigate these challenges is crucial for effective social transformation.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s words, once again, emphasize the importance of personal responsibility in the process of social change. He encourages us to embody the values and principles we wish to see in the world, highlighting the power of leading by example. This quote serves as a timeless reminder that change starts with the individual, and that each of us has the power to make a difference.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges that change is not automatic or guaranteed; it requires persistent effort and struggle. He emphasizes the need for resilience and determination in the face of adversity, reminding us that progress is hard-won. This quote serves as a powerful motivator, encouraging us to stay committed to our cause, even when the journey becomes difficult.

The Power of Words and Communication

JK Rowling

Words have the power to inspire, motivate, and drive change. Effective communication is a crucial tool in the pursuit of power and social change.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” – J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling, the renowned author, highlights the transformative power of words in this quote. She acknowledges the ability of words to influence thoughts, emotions, and actions, emphasizing their role as a potent tool for change. This quote encourages us to be mindful of our words, reminding us of their impact and potential.

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi addresses the responsibility that comes with the power of words in this quote. He challenges us to break our silence in the face of injustice, emphasizing the importance of speaking out and taking action. This quote serves as a call to courage, urging us to use our voice and influence to advocate for change.

The Power of Community

Helen Keller

The collective power of communities is a formidable force for social change. Understanding how to tap into and mobilize this power is key to driving progress.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Helen Keller, an American author, political activist, and lecturer, highlights the power of collective action in this quote. She emphasizes the limitations of individual effort and the transformative potential of collaborative work. This quote serves as a reminder of the strength that lies in unity, encouraging us to seek out and foster community.

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley

Margaret J. Wheatley, an American writer and management consultant, speaks to the transformative power of community and shared values in this quote. She emphasizes the potential for change when a community comes together, united by common interests and goals. This quote encourages us to engage with our communities, to discover our collective passions, and to harness this power for change.

Moving Forward Can be Hard

Charles Darwin

As we navigate the complexities of power and social change, it is important to embrace change and remain open to new possibilities.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts

Alan Watts, a British writer and speaker, encourages us to embrace change in this insightful quote. He acknowledges the uncertainty and chaos that often accompany change, but urges us to engage with it fully and find our rhythm within it. This quote serves as a reminder to be adaptable and resilient, encouraging us to find joy and meaning in the process of change.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, the renowned naturalist and biologist, highlights the importance of adaptability in this quote. He challenges the notion that strength or intelligence are the sole determinants of survival, instead emphasizing the crucial role of responsiveness to change. This quote serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of adaptability and openness to change, encouraging us to remain flexible and responsive in the face of uncertainty.

Empathy and Compassion

Dalai Lama

In the pursuit of power and social change, cultivating empathy and compassion is crucial. These qualities ensure that our actions are grounded in a sense of shared humanity and a commitment to the greater good.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald, the American novelist, highlights the importance of empathy in this quote. He urges us to consider the diverse experiences and challenges that others may face, encouraging a compassionate and non-judgmental approach. This quote serves as a reminder to practice empathy, to extend understanding and kindness to others, regardless of their circumstances.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, emphasizes the reciprocal nature of compassion in this quote. He highlights the dual benefits of compassion, underscoring its ability to bring happiness to both ourselves and others. This quote serves as a call to action, urging us to practice compassion in our daily lives and interactions.

Small Actions, Big Impact

Margaret Mead

Never underestimate the power of small actions. Even the smallest pebble can create ripples across a vast ocean.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead, with her anthropological insight, reiterates the power of a small group of dedicated individuals. She challenges the notion that change can only be achieved by the masses, highlighting the significant impact that a few caring people can have. This quote serves as an empowering reminder that each of us has the potential to contribute to change, no matter how small our actions may seem.

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa, known for her humanitarian work and deep compassion, emphasizes the power of individual action in creating change. She encourages us to take personal responsibility and to act on a one-to-one basis, rather than waiting for leaders to initiate change. This quote serves as a call to grassroots action, reminding us that change starts with individual efforts.


These quotes have served as guides, challenging us to think deeply, act boldly, and remain committed to the cause of creating a better world. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Let us take these words to heart, and step forward with courage, determination, and a steadfast commitment to creating a world of justice, equality, and compassion.