Silence Never Won Rights

Roger Baldwin

By: Matthew Skoviak

Quote History

This quote originated between 1884 and 1981. It was spoken or written by Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union. I cannot find any information regarding the exact date of the quote or where exactly it came from, only that he made it.

"Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below"


Attitude: The word silence suggests an attitude of bystander-ness, suggesting that bystanders will never inspire change. This is because you can't have results without action.

Emphasis: "Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below!" The bolded portions of the quote are the words I believe should have particular emphasis if the quote were to be spoken. These draw extra attention to the fact that you can't just sit there and expect change to be handed to you. You have to force the change to happen.

Quote Spoken Aloud

Audience Impact: I think that the last sentence in the speech would have the most impact on an audience, as it tells them that change doesn't just happen. If you want change, you have to make it happen.

Other Stylistic Device: You could imagine those who don't "hand down rights from above" and those who "force change from below" as people on a ladder. Those from "above" probably references oppressive government officials, or powerful members of an "upper class", while those "below" would be more common people, such as average citizens or people in poverty.


This somewhat famous quote was made by Roger Nash Baldwin, a cofounder of the ACLU. Hew was the executive director until 1950. During his life, he was a widely known author and pacifist. I have not been able to find any information as to where the quote was spoken or written, or exactly when it was created, only that he made it at some point in his lifetime. The intention of the speech (if it was a speech) was likely to educate the people about civil rights and liberties. The intended audience was probably civil rights activists or people who were oppressed by mass ignorance of their civil rights by others. Since there is no surviving record that I could find of any speech occurring, I cannot say what the reaction of the audience was. This does not stop the quote from being relevant, as it still makes a point. The point is that people can not sit idly by and expect change. If they want something to happen, they have to take action. They have to petition and/or protest to truly affect their situation.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

😍 😍 😍 Wow! I loved ur quote!!!