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26 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes About Nonviolence

Quote Graphic: Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. — Martin Luther King Jr.

As one of the most influential figures in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated for his unwavering commitment to nonviolence in the pursuit of justice and equality. 

His philosophy of nonviolence was deeply rooted in the belief that love and peaceful protest could bring about meaningful change — a belief that was instrumental in shaping the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. 

King’s eloquent speeches and writings on nonviolence remain a powerful testament to his vision for a more just and peaceful world.

His words continue to inspire activists and peacemakers around the world — offering timeless wisdom on the power of love, the importance of nonviolent resistance, and the courage it takes to stand against injustice without resorting to aggression.

In this collection, we’ve curated all of the best of King’s most impactful quotes about nonviolence. (If you want even more quotes, check out our complete collection of MLK quotes.) 

May these quotes inspire you to carry on King’s legacy of peaceful resistance in your pursuit of justice and equality.

The Best Nonviolence Quotes from Dr. King

“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

“We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“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

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. 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.

“The phrase ‘passive resistance’ often gives the false impression that this is a sort of ‘do-nothing method’ in which the resister quietly and passively accepts evil. But nothing is further from the truth. For while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.” — Martin Luther King Jr

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.” — Martin Luther King Jr.‍

“I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“I am convinced that even violent temperaments can be channeled through nonviolent discipline, if they can act constructively and express through an effective channel their very legitimate anger.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“I feel that non-violence is really the only way that we can follow because violence is just so self-defeating. A riot ends up creating many more problems for the negro community than it solved. We can through violence burn down a building, but you can’t establish justice. You can murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder through violence. You can murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. And what we’re trying to get rid of is hate, injustice, and all of these other things that continue the long night of man’s inhumanity to man.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“A second basic fact that characterizes nonviolence is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“A second basic fact that characterizes nonviolence is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.” — 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.

“In the nonviolent army, there is room for everyone who wants to join up. There is no color distinction. There is no examination, no pledge, except that, as a soldier in the armies of violence is expected to inspect his carbine and keep it clean, nonviolent soldiers are called upon to examine their greatest weapons: their heart, their conscience, their courage and sense of justice.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

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

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

→ Explore more Martin Luther King Jr. quotes

Article Details

January 11, 2024 5:47 PM
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