Tag Archives: R. H. Edwin Espy

Never Doubt That a Small Group of Thoughtful, Committed Citizens Can Change the World; Indeed, It’s the Only Thing That Ever Has

Margaret Mead? Donald Keys? Norman Vincent Peale? Patrick E. Haggerty? R. H. Edwin Espy? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A popular energizing statement about small groups changing the world is usually attributed to the influential cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead. Yet, I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: Researchers have been unsuccessful in finding the quotation in Margaret Mead’s corpus. The earliest strong match known to QI appeared in the 1982 book “Earth at Omega: Passage to Planetization”. The epigraph of chapter 6 was the following. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead

The author, Donald Keys, did not provide any details about the source of the statement. Margaret Mead had died a few years earlier in 1978.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1982 Copyright, Earth at Omega: Passage to Planetization by Donald Keys, (Epigraph of Chapter VI: The Politics of Consciousness), Quote Page 79, Published by Branden Press, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books Preview)