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These Are The 200 Best Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes of The Decade

These Are The 200 Best Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes Of The Decade

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson, pivotal advocate for African Americans and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15th, 1929. MLK gave hundreds of moving speeches across the country, and in 1964 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Throughout his years of public service, the Nobel Peace Prize winner wrote and delivered speeches – the most notable being his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech – that provided words had continued to resonate with audiences, decades later.

Martin Luther King Jr. inspired the human race to strive for harmony among all people. His tragic death shocked the nation, but his words and his dedication to equality continue to inspire younger generations. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021, here are some inspirational speeches and quotes about love, life, education, courage, and equality. the activist spoke during his short life. I hope these famous Martin Luther King Jr. quotes lift your heart and spirit.

200 Powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes, Best MLK Quotes

Top 10 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing 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.

“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.

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

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

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

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes On Love

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“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, 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. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”

“The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate.  History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued that self-defeating path of hate.  Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world.”

“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.”

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

“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.”

“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 your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.”

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. 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.”

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

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“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.”

“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

“It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”

“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”

“If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, There lived a great people – a black people – who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.  This is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility.”

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

“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.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service… You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

“I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose, and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes On Leadership

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“Even when the polls are open to all, Negroes have shown themselves too slow to exercise their voting privileges.  There must be a concerted effort on the part of Negro leaders to arouse their people from their apathetic indifference…. In the past, apathy was a moral failure.  Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.”

“And so we shall have to do more than register and more than vote; we shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect, who have moral and ethical principles we can applaud with enthusiasm.”

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes On Education

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“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”

“One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.”

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.  Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes On Courage

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“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

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

“I still have a dream today that one day war will come to an end, that men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, that nations will no longer rise up against nations, neither will they study war any more.”

“Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul-saving music of eternity.”

“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. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.”

“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.”

“A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit.  The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him.”

“It must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist.  If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent.  This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight.”

“You are quite right in calling for negotiation.  Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action.  Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

“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.”

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”

“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.”

“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.”

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining… We demand this fraud be stopped.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes On Equality

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“When Negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared…. To stay murder is not the same thing as to ordain brotherhood.”

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

“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. Quotes About Life

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“Every human life is a reflection of divinity, and… every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man.”

“Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.”

“We were all involved in the death of John Kennedy.  We tolerated hate; we tolerated the sick stimulation of violence in all walks of life; and we tolerated the differential application of law, which said that a man’s life was sacred only if we agreed with his views.”

“There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.”

“Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”

“I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.”

“One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practise the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterised by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anaemia of deeds! We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practise the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice. This strange dichotomy, this agonising gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage.”

“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

“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.”

“But while so many white Americans are unaware of conditions inside the ghetto, there are very few ghetto dwellers who are unaware of the life outside.  The television sets bombard them day by day with the opulence of the larger society.”

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

“There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes About Success

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“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.”

“Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes About Racism

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“We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” – society to a “person-oriented” – society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

“When the Negro was completely an underdog, he needed white spokesmen.  Liberals played their parts in this period exceedingly well…. But now that the Negro has rejected his role as an underdog, he has become more assertive in his search for identity and group solidarity; he wants to speak for himself.”

“The sooner our society admits that the Negro Revolution is no momentary outburst soon to subside into placid passivity, the easier the future will be for us all.”

“The majority of the Negroes who took part in the year-long boycott of Montgomery’s buses were poor and untutored; but they understood the essence of the Montgomery movement; one elderly woman summed it up for the rest.  When asked after several weeks of walking whether she was tired, she answered:  My feet is tired, but my soul is at rest..”

“Black Power is a nihilistic philosophy born out of the conviction that the Negro can’t win… the view that American society is so hopelessly corrupt and enmeshed in evil that there is no possibility of salvation from within.”

“When you first name becomes nigger, your middle name becomes boy (however old you are), and your wife and mother are never given the respected title Mrs.; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro… when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of nobodiness – then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”

“The problem with hatred and violence is that they intensity the fears of the white majority, and leave them less ashamed of their prejudices toward Negroes.”

“The Negro is the child of two cultures – Africa and America.  The problem is that in the search for wholeness all too many Negroes seek to embrace only one side of their natures.”

“I will always remember my delight when Mrs. Georgia Gilmore – an unlettered woman of unusual intelligence – told how an operator demanded that she get off the bus after paying her fare and board it again by the back door, and then drove away before she could get there.  She turned to Judge Carter and said:  When they count the money, they do not know Negro money from white money..”

“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’ ”

“It was argued that the Negro was inferior by nature because of Noah’s curse upon the children of Ham…. The greatest blasphemy of the whole ugly process was that the white man ended up making God his partner in the exploitation of the Negro.”

“Nonviolent resistance makes it possible for the Negro to remain in the South and struggle for his rights.  The Negro’s problem will not be solved by running away.”

“As I like to say to the people in Montgomery:  The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people.  The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness..”

“Black Power alone is no more insurance against social injustice than white power.”

“Let us say boldly, that if the total slum violations of law by the white man over the years were calculated and compared with the lawbreaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man.”

“If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive. ”

“In the final analysis the weakness of Black Power is its failure to see that the black man needs the white man and the white man needs the black man.”

“I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.”

“Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead.  The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral.”

“There is such a thing as the freedom of exhaustion.  Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up…. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber…. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.”

“If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho’ we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.”

“We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”

Inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

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“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Without denying the value of scientific endeavor, there is a striking absurdity in committing billions to reach the moon where no people live, while only a fraction of that amount is appropriated to service the densely populated slums.”

“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.”

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”

“You will change your mind; You will change your looks; You will change your smile, laugh, and ways but no matter what you change, you will always be you.”

“President Lyndon Johnson’s high spirits were marked as he circulated among the many guests whom he had invited to witness an event he confidently felt to be historic, the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act…. The bill that lay on the polished mahogany desk was born in violence in Selma, Alabama, where a stubborn sheriff… had stumbled against the future.”

“It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch-antirevolutionaries.”

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. 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. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

“The principle of self defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi.”

“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.”

“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“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.”

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

“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.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“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?’ “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.”

“I would be the last to condemn the thousands of sincere and dedicated people outside the churches who have labored unselfishly through various humanitarian movements to cure the world of social evils, for I would rather a man be a committed humanist than an uncommitted Christian.”

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”

“There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminates even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good.”

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

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“The Christian faith makes it possible for us nobly to accept that which cannot be changed, and to meet disappointments and sorrow with an inner poise, and to absorb the most intense pain without abandoning our sense of hope.”

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

“The conservatives who say, Let us not move so fast, and the extremists who say, Let us go out and whip the world, would tell you that they are as far apart as the poles.  But there is a striking parallel:  They accomplish nothing; for they do not reach the people who have a crying need to be free.”

“The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.”

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

“I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

“Millions of citizens are deeply disturbed that the military-industrial complex too often shapes national policy, but they do not want to be considered unpatriotic.”

“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”

“As a teenager I had never been able to accept the fact of having to go to the back of a bus or sit in the segregated section of a train.  The first time I had been seated behind a curtain in a dining car, I felt as if the curtain had been dropped on my selfhood.”

“I cannot reach fulfillment without thou.  The self cannot be self without other selves.  Self-concern without other-concern is like a tributary that has no outward flow to the ocean.”

“Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.”

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

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and is willing to accept the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

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

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”

“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”

“The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live.  Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”

“A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.  Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up the state’s segregation laws was democratically elected.”

“But alas!  Science cannot now rescue us, for even the scientist is lost in the terrible midnight of our age.  Indeed, science gave us the very instruments that threaten to bring universal suicide.”

“All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”

“Mankind must put and end to war or war will put an end to mankind.”

“Hate destroys the hater…”

“By opening our lives to God in Christ, we become new creatures. This experience, which Jesus spoke of as the new birth, is essential if we are to be transformed nonconformists … Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit.”

“If any earthly institution or custom conflicts with God’s will, it is your Christian duty to oppose it. You must never allow the transitory, evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.”

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

“Seeing is not always believing.”

“We cannot walk alone.”

“What is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy.”

“Every man lives in two realms: the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live.”

“If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam.  It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over.”

“The poor in our countries have been shut out of our minds and driven from the mainstream of our societies, because we have allowed them to become invisible.”

“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.”

“If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

“A right delayed is a right denied.”

“We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the postive affirmation of peace.”

“Liberalism provided me with an intellectual satisfaction that I never found in fundamentalism.  I became so enamored of the insights of liberalism that I almost fell into the trap of accepting uncritically everything it encompassed.”

“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.”

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

“The God whom we worship is not a weak and incompetent God. He is able to beat back gigantic waves of opposition and to bring low prodigious mountains of evil. The ringing testimony of the Christian faith is that God is able.”

“We need not join the mad rush to purchase an earthly fallout shelter.  God is our eternal fallout shelter.”

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”

“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.”

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

“We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism.  We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practice the very opposite of the democratic creed…. This strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage.”

“Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face.  But I left with a smile.  I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime.”

“A lie cannot live.”

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

“The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows”

“The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“We are the heirs of a past of rope, fire, and murder.  I for one am not ashamed of this past.  My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us.”

“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.”

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.  Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

“The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.”

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

“The more there are riots, the more repressive action will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society.”

“Perhaps only his sense of humor and irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation in the world speaking of his aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.”

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

“Unfortunately, most of the major denominations still practice segregation in local churches, hospitals, schools, and other church institutions.  It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning, the same hour when many are standing to sing:  In Christ There Is No East Nor West..”

“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.”

“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.”

“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”

“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.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“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.”

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”

“I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

“A world war – God forbid! – will leave only smoldering ashes as a mute testimony of a human race whose folly led inexorably to untimely death.  Yet there are those who sincerely feel that disarmament is an evil and international negotiation is an abominable waste of time.”

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”

“There is no gain without struggle.”

“As television beamed the image of this extraordinary gathering across the border oceans, everyone who believed in man’s capacity to better himself had a moment of inspiration and confidence in the future of the human race.”

“Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves.”

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”

“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.”

“It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.”

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.”

“We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women…. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge provided for us by a Pacific Islander.  We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman.  The towel is provided by a Turk.  Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African.  Before we leave for our jobs, we are beholden to more than half the world.”

Quotes About Martin Luther King Jr.

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“With profound faith in our Nation’s promise, the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., led a non-violent movement that urged our country’s leaders to expand the reach of freedom and provide equal opportunity for all… By preaching his dream of a day when his children would be judged by the content of their character — rather than by the colour of their skin — he helped awaken our Nation to the bitter truth that basic justice for all had not yet been realized… Today, we celebrate the long arc of progress for which Dr King and so many other leaders fought to bend toward a brighter day… As Americans of all races and beliefs come together on this day of service to honour the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., let us pledge to recognize the common humanity of all people, regardless of the colour of their skin or the station into which they were born.” – Barack Obama

“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King Jr. did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love…. What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was a manifestation of hope that humanity might one day get out of its own way by finding the courage to realize that love and nonviolence are not indicators of weakness but gifts of significant strength.” – Aberjhani

“We can’t answer King’s assassination with violence. That would be the worst tribute we could pay him.” – Sammy Davis Jr.

“The evidence of Martin Luther King Jnr’s “I have a dream” declaration was a passionate confirmation of how a dream meant for liberation, success and fulfilled life can become true.” – Israelmore Ayivor

References

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“I Have a Dream,” Address Delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (kinginstitute.stanford.edu)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_a_Dream
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King_Jr.

Originally published December 4, 2019, updated March 26, 2021

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