Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent civil rights leader who is best known for his advocacy for racial equality and his effort to gain economic justice for poor people — and his use of nonviolent resistance to achieve social change. 

And, of course, we already know this. 

We learn about King in school, we celebrate MLK Day every year, and we hear no shortage of references to the late activist in media and culture.

According to a CBS poll, 95% of Americans say King was an important figure in American history — and according to a poll from YouGov, 89% of Americans have a positive view of King.

While it’s compelling that King is seen largely positively in 2022, public opinion of him was incredibly negative during his lifetime. The final Gallup poll to ask about his popularity during his lifetime — in 1966 — found his unfavorable rating to be 63%.

While much of the progress we’ve seen in the way Americans perceive King comes from a place of genuine cultural change and understanding — there’s no denying that the image of King has been distorted over time to make his bold, radical message more “palatable.” 

Textbooks take an oversimplified approach to his work, public references focus all-too-often on a small number of his quotes, and his words in general have been co-opted by those who seek to downplay the ongoing issues of racism and discrimination in the United States. 

These individuals may use King’s speeches and writings to promote a false narrative of “colorblindness” and the idea that racism is no longer a significant problem in American society.

Some might point to King’s commitment to nonviolent resistance as a way to silence those who favor more radical action against racism. You might also see folks quoting his words out of context (intentionally or otherwise), damaging and misrepresenting his legacy in the process.

It is extremely important to remember the true message of King’s legacy and to continue to fight for racial justice and equality on a system-wide level; not just on a narrow, individualistic experience of social justice. 

This means recognizing the ongoing impact of racism and discrimination and not allowing King’s words to be used to downplay their relevance. It also means supporting the work of those who continue to fight for change and taking action to create a more just and equitable society.

We set out to create a resource that included all of King’s most iconic quotes and his more bold and radical quotes that you won’t find in other quote collections.

In this article you’ll find King’s quotes organized into the following categories:

  • Famous Quotes
  • Radical & Lesser-Known Quotes
  • Especially Relevant Quotes
  • Equality
  • Justice
  • Non-violence
  • Hope
  • Life
  • Change
  • Freedom
  • Love
  • Faith
  • Courage
  • Leadership
  • Peace
  • Education
  • Humanity
  • Short Quotes
  • From His “I Have a Dream” Speech
  • More Quotes

Our hope is that you’ll be encouraged to go beyond the clichés as you seek to read and share quotes from King. And we’ve also included links to speeches or relevant books wherever possible, so you can better understand the quotes in context.

And most importantly, we hope you’ll go beyond reading and sharing quotes by finding a way to take action in line with King’s fight for racial and economic equality.

Explore the ultimate guide to Martin Luther King Jr. quotes —

First, we’ll start with Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous and iconic quotes:

Famous MLK Quotes

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” — Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964

“The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” — Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

“A right delayed is a right denied.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“A right delayed is a right denied.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“The surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“I have decided to stick to love… Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope

“I have decided to stick to love… Hate is too great a burden to bear.” — Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices on Resistance, Reform, and Renewal an African American Anthology

“There is no gain without struggle.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“There is no gain without struggle.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Radical & Important Quotes That Don’t Get As Much Attention

“The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Something is wrong with capitalism. Maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. We must develop programs that will drive the nation to the realization of the need for a guaranteed annual income.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free market capitalism for the poor.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that Capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.
— Martin Luther King Jr., The Three Evils of Society, 1967

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?… It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., The Other America, 1968

“I contend that the cry of “Black Power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., in an interview with Mike Wallace, 1966

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Revolution of Values, 1967

“White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.
— Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

“A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him, in order to equip him to compete on a just and equal basis.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I had seen police brutality with my own eyes and watched Negroes receive the most tragic injustice in the court. All of these things had done something to my growing personality.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a… mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam, 1967

“The price that America must pay for the continued oppression of the Negro and other minority groups is the price of its own destruction.”
— Martin Luther King Jr, The American Dream: July 4, 1965

“The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., in a speech to SCLC Board, 1967

“Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?
The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”

— Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here, 1967

“For the good of America, it is necessary to refute the idea that the dominant ideology in our country even today is freedom and equality while racism is just an occasional departure from the norm on the part of a few bigoted extremists.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“All we say to America is: be true to what you said on paper.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“All we say to America is: be true to what you said on paper.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Quotes That Feel Especially Important Right Now

“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail 

“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshippers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers say, ‘follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro is your brother.’”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, ‘those are social issues with which the gospel has no real concern.’, and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely other-worldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

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About Equality

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact... that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance; We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters...”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed, without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here

“The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

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About Justice

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” — Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. ”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“And one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The Universe is on the side of Justice.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘ an unjust law is no law at all.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice.” — Martin Luther King Jr.‍

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About Nonviolence

“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Violence brings only temporary victories; violence, by creating many more social problems than it solves, never brings permanent peace.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope

“The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That’s all.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Capital punishment is against the best judgment of modern criminology and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., in an interview with Ebony magazine

“Please be peaceful. We believe in law and order. We are not advocating violence, I want you to love your enemies... for what we are doing is right, what we are doing is just -- and God is with us.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than to seek his understanding. It seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Instead of eliminating evil, violence multiplies it.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Instead of eliminating evil, violence multiplies it.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

About Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

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About Life

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“Quietly endure, silently suffer and patiently wait.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words ‘Too Late’.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable”
— Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until I am seventy-five and yet not ever truly to have lived.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until I am seventy-five and yet not ever truly to have lived.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

About Change

“A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage they did not know they had.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The richer we have become materially, the poorer we become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
— Martin Luther King Jr. 

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

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

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About Freedom

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

“We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There is nothing more majestic than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for their freedom and dignity.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Freedom is not won by a passive acceptance of suffering. Freedom is won by a struggle against suffering. By this measure, Negroes have not yet paid the full price for freedom. And whites have not yet faced the full cost of justice.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here, 1967

“The road to freedom is a difficult, hard road. It always makes for temporary setbacks.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Perhaps… the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

About Love

“Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr., A Testament of Hope

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love

“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. ”
— Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here, 1967

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here, 1967‍

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 About Faith

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of [people] willing to be co-workers with God.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Like anybody, I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but one day that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.” — Martin Luther King Jr.‍

About Courage

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” — Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right...”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Courage faces fear and thereby masters it”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love

“We must substitute courage for caution.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We did not hesitate to call our movement an army. But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

About Leadership

“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., in a speech in Selma, AL, March 8, 1965

“Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., in the “Domestic Impact of the War” speech, November 1967

“Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” — Martin Luther King Jr., in the “Domestic Impact of the War” speech, November 1967

About Peace

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam, 1967

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam, 1967

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is not enough to say, ‘We must not wage war.’ It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I suggested that the philosophy and strategy of non-violence become immediately a subject for study and serious experimentation in every field of human conflict, including relations between nations. This was not, I believe, an unrealistic suggestion. World peace through non-violent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Non-violence is a good starting point.”
— Martin Luther King Jr. 

“This is the unusual thing about nonviolence -- nobody is defeated, everybody shares in the victory.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, say that I was a drum major for peace, I was a drum major for righteousness.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Be the peace you wish to see in the world.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must find an alternative to war and bloodshed.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must find an alternative to war and bloodshed.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

About Education

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” — Martin Luther King Jr.‍

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. ”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I said to my children, ‘I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nothing pains some people more than having to think”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Education is the key to unlock the Golden door of Freedom”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

On Humanity

“There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

“All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“The potential beauty of human life is constantly made ugly by man’s ever-recurring song of retaliation.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight

“If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.” — Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight

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Short Quotes

“Let freedom ring.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Let freedom ring.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Unearned suffering is redemptive.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“No lie can live forever.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., in the “How Long, Not Long” speech in Montgomery, AL, March 25, 1965

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Hate destroys the hater...”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“A lie cannot live.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Babies, we are told, are the latest news from heaven.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Violence is not only impractical but immoral.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

From the I Have a Dream speech

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” — Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.,I Have a Dream

“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes closed and a visionary has his eyes open”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.
Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream!
To be free at last!
Free at last!
Free at last.
And if a man has nothing to die for,
Then his life is worth nothing.”

— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state sweltering in the heat of injustice and oppression, will one day be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream. I have a dream that one day, people will be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

“I have a dream. I have a dream that one day, people will be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.” — Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream‍

About His Wife and Children

“I said to my children, ‘I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I said to my children, ‘I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.” — Martin Luther King Jr.‍

“My devoted wife has been a constant source of consolation to me through all the difficulties. In the midst of the most tragic experiences, she never became panicky or over-emotional. I have come to see the real meaning of that rather trite statement: a wife can either make or break a husband. My wife was always stronger than I was through the struggle.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“When I thought of my future, I also thought of my family. I had to think of what’s best for them also.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

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More Quotes from Dr. King

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, cruelly mocked, but it an never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, cruelly mocked, but it an never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I am what I am because of who we all are.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“When you are right, you cannot be too radical; When you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

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