101 Justice Quotes from Leaders and Advocates Throughout History

When you think about famous justice quotes, a few prominent figures likely come to mind; Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Helen Keller and more. Justice is an ideal that has been pursued since the earliest days of mankind. It serves as the cornerstone of any equitable society, representing the principles of fairness and moral righteousness.

Ultimately, justice seeks to balance the scales, ensuring that every person is treated with equal consideration and respect. Whether it’s addressing legal disputes, social inequalities or moral dilemmas, the concept of social justice is integral to maintaining social harmony. But, in a world rife with disagreements and prejudices, the pursuit of justice often requires great courage.

Parade gathered the following 101 quotes about justice from thinkers, leaders and justice advocates throughout history. These powerful justice quotes offer inspiration and reflection, reminding us of the importance of these ideals in our daily lives and society.  

Related: 50 Aristotle Quotes on Philosophy, Virtue and Education

101 Justice Quotes

1. "Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public." –Cornel West

2. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." –Martin Luther King Jr.



3. "It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive." –Earl Warren

4. "Justice and truth are the common ties of society." –John Locke



5. "Justice does not come from the outside. It comes from inner peace." –Barbara Hall

6. "When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something." –John Lewis

7. "Without justice and love, peace will always be a great illusion." –Don Helder Camara

8. "The worst form of justice is pretended justice." –Plato

9. "Justice delayed is justice denied." –William E. Gladstone



10. "The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them." –Ida B. Wells

11. "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." –Benjamin Franklin

12. "It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered." –Aristotle

13. "Without justice, there can be no love." –bell hooks

14. "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." –James Baldwin

15. "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life." –Nelson Mandela 

16. "Love is not passive. It is active, transformative, and just." –Bernice King

17. "Justice is doing for others what we would want done for us." –Gary Haugen

18. "When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change." –Ijeoma Oluo

19. "I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept." –Angela Davis

20. "You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." –Malcolm X

21. "Truth never damages a cause that is just." –Ghandi

22. "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine." –Ernesto Che Guevara

23. "Our courts have our faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal." –Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird 

24. "It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one." –Voltaire 

Related: 50 Voltaire Quotes



25. "To be wealthy and honored in an unjust society is a disgrace." –Confucius 

26. "Sometimes, the only way to get justice is to take it for yourself." –Leigh Bardugo

27. "Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." –William Penn

28. "Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just." –Victor Hugo

29. "If you want peace, you must work for justice." –Pope Paul VI

30. "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent." –Terry Goodkind

31. "If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us." –Francis Bacon

32. "Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they’re ratified into law." – E.A. Bucchianeri

33. "Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on." –Thurgood Marshall

34. "Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy." –Wendell Berry 

35. "I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people." –Rosa Parks 

36. "Justice without force is powerless; force without justice is tyrannical." –Blaise Pascal

37. "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." –Elie Wiesel

38. "We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself." –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

39. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." –Martin Luther King Jr.

40. "I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." –Malcolm X

41. "Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo — obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other." –Angela Davis

42. "In the struggle for justice, the only reward is the opportunity to be in the struggle. You can’t expect that you’re going to have it tomorrow. You just have to keep working on it." –Frederick Douglass

43. "The first duty of society is justice." –Alexander Hamilton

44. "Justice, and only justice, shall always be our motto." –Woodrow Wilson

45. "In the same degree that we overrate ourselves, we shall underrate others; for injustice allowed at home is not likely to be correct abroad." –Washington Allston

46. "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." –Desmond Tutu

47. "Freedom is incomplete without social justice." –Atal Bihari

48. "Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." –Reinhold Niebuhr

49. "Never mistake law for justice. Justice is an ideal, and law is a tool." –L.E. Modesitt

50. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." –Martin Luther King Jr.

51. "Only the actions of the just smell sweet and blossom in the dust." –James Shirley

52. "Democracy, like liberty, justice and other social and political rights, is not “given”, it is earned through courage, resolution and sacrifice." –Aung San Suu Kyi

53. "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." –Frederick Douglass

54. "True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of Justice." –Martin Luther King Jr.

Related: 55 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Most Inspiring Motivational Quotes

55. "In case of dissension, never dare to judge till you've heard the other side." –Euripides

56. "It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone even if you believe in something very strongly." –Reginald Rose



57. "Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin." –Dwight D. Eisenhower

58. "Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with it all." –George Washington

59. "Justice seeks no reward." –Marcus Tullius Cicero

60. "If it were not for injustice, man would not know justice." –Heraclitus

61. "The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor." –Dorothy Day

62. "Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others." –Rosa Parks



63. "When we all see justice, then we'll all see peace." –Michael Franti

64. "Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion is safe." –Edmund Burke

65. "As long as people can be judged by the color of their skin, the problem is not solved." –Oprah Winfrey

66. "The sword of justice has no scabbard." –Antoine de Riveral

67. "Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right." –Psalm 106:3

68. "Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?" –Lillian Hellman

69. "It is a denial of justice not to stretch out a helping hand to the fallen; that is the common right of humanity." –Seneca the Elder

70. "I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them." –Charles Bukowski

71. "Injustice makes the rules, and courage breaks them." –Ursula K. Le Guin

72. "Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph." –Haile Selassie

73. "We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry." –Jimmy Carter

74. "Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice and happiness, which is everything in this world." –Blaise Pascal

75. "There are wrongs which even the grave does not bury." –Harriet Jacobs

76. "Let us be enraged about injustice, but let us not be destroyed by it." –Bayard Rustin

77. "Without justice, courage is weak." –Benjamin Franklin

78. "Don't worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth." –Dorothy Day

79. "A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option — for peace cannot exist where justice is not served." –John Lewis

80. "You can also commit injustice by doing nothing." –Marcus Aurelius

81. "One had better die fighting against injustice than die like a dog or a rat in a trap." –Ida B. Wells

82. "It is essential that justice be done, and it is equally vital that justice not be confused with revenge, for the two are wholly different." –Oscar Aria

83. "I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights." –Dr. Seuss

84. "Fairness is man’s ability to rise above his prejudices." –Wes Fessler

85. "Fairness is what justice really is." –Potter Stewart

86. "The aim of justice is to give everyone his due." –Cicero

87. "In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same." –Albert Einstein

88. "The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people’s children." –Marian Wright Edelman

89. "Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice." –Desmond Tutu

90. "The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty." –Pope Francis

91. "Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with a sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained." –Helen Keller

92. "Equality of opportunity is the essence of social justice." –Tony Honore

93. "If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice." –Bell Hooks

94. "Hunger is not an issue of charity. It is an issue of justice." –Jacques Diouf

95. "Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope." –Robert Kennedy

96. "By acting compassionately, by helping to restore justice and to encourage peace, we acknowledge that we are all part of one another." –Ram Dass

97. "If you join a fight for social justice you may win or lose, but just by being part of the struggle, you win, and your life will be better for it." –Howard Zinn

98. "For all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice." –Barack Obama

99. "Law without justice is a wound without a cure." –William Scott Downey

100. "Law is not law, if it violates the principles of eternal justice." –Lydia Maria Child

101. "Justice is the virtue that innocence rejoiceth in." –Ben Jonson

Next: 75 Stoic Quotes from Philosophers of Stoicism About Life, Happiness and Wisdom