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A minority group, by its original definition, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethnicity, or other characteristics are lesser in numbers than the main groups of those classifications. However in present-day sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group. Minority group membership is typically based on differences in observable characteristics or practices, such as: ethnicity (ethnic minority), race (racial minority), religion (religious minority), sexual orientation (sexual minority), or disability.
- I come more and more to the conclusion that one must take the side of the minority which is always the more intelligent one.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Conversation with Friedrich von Müller (March 6, 1828)
- Every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass. Today, as ever, the few are misunderstood, hounded, imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
- The principle of brotherhood expounded by the agitator of Nazareth preserved the germ of life, of truth and justice, so long as it was the beacon light of the few.
- In republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.
- James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention (1829). The Mind of the Founder: Sources of the Political Thought of James Madison, p. 512, ed. Marvin Meyers, Indianapolis (1973)
- A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight.
- Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849)
- The so-called minorities are majorities but since less is more the more should feel that they are less... Less is more is a fabrication of the rich to make the poor think that by having less goodies they can have more babies. But less food for those babies. That is what they mean when they say less is more. Less for you and more for me.
- Giannina Braschi, "United States of Banana" (2011)
- Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion—and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion … while Truth again reverts to a new minority.
- Soren Kierkegaard, The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard, pt. 5, sct. 3, no 128 (1850)
- Shall we then judge a country by the majority, or by the minority? By the minority, surely.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Considerations by the Way,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
- [Popular government] rests in the common sense, and the self-restraint of the American people. It rests in the knowledge of the majority that it must keep within the checks of the law and the Constitution if the Government is to be preserved. And it must rest in the view that the minority that it is much more important that the government should be sustained than that the minority should have for the time being control of or a voice in the government. It rests in the knowledge of the majority that the rights of the minority and in the individuals of that minority are exactly as sacred as the rights in the individuals of the majority.
- William Howard Taft, Address at City Hall Park, Fresno, California, at a Union Religious Service (10 October 1909) Presidential Addresses and State Papers of William Howard Taft, March 4, 1909, to March 4, 1910 (1910)
- The moment a mere numerical superiority by either states or voters in this country proceeds to ignore the needs and desires of the minority, and for their own selfish purpose or advancement, hamper or oppress that minority, or debar them in any way from equal privileges and equal rights—that moment will mark the failure of our constitutional system.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio broadcast (2 March 1930)
- In making the great experiment of governing people by consent rather than by coercion, it is not sufficient that the party in power should have a majority. It is just as necessary that the party in power should never outrage the minority.
- Walter Lippmann, “The Indispensable Opposition”, Atlantic Monthly (1939)
- What characterizes a member of a minority group is that he is forced to see himself as both exceptional and insignificant, marvelous and awful, good and evil.
- Norman Mailer, “A Speech at Berkeley on Vietnam Day,” Cannibals and Christians (1966)
- A dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority: what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority.
- Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, Aph. 40 (1973)
- Experience tells us that sometimes, when minorities insist on their rights, they ultimately prevail.
- Kekewich, J., Young v. South African, &c. Syndicate (1896), L. R. 2 C. D. , p. 278; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 166.
- It is impossible that bodies of men should always be brought to think alike: there is often a degree of coercion, and the majority is governed by the minority, and vice versa, according to the strength of opinions, tempers, prejudices, and even interests.
- Eyre, C.J., Grindley v. Barker (1798), 2 Bos. & Pull. 238; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 166-167.
- Without promoting fraternity, our democracy cannot survive. And the dangerous demonisation of minorities has to be countered, as it is this hate which gets transformed into intense violence.