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Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes



Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929April 4, 1968) was one of the main leaders of the American civil rights movement, a political activist, a Baptist minister, and is regarded as one of America's greatest orators. King's most influential and well-known public address is the "I Have A Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963. In 1964, King became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for his work as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for different races). On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1977, he was posthumously awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter. In 1986, Martin Luther King Day was established as a United States holiday. In 2004, King was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. King often called for personal responsibility in fostering world peace.


  1. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
  2. 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.
  3. Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
  4. Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
  5. 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.
  6. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.
  7. 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.
  8. A riot is the language of the unheard.
  9. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
  10. An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
  14. The strong man is the man who can stand up for his rights and not hit back.
  15. We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule.
  16. It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever present.
  17. A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.
  18. I'm grateful to God that, through the Negro church, the dimension of nonviolence entered our struggle.
  19. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.
  20. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
  21. If man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.
  22. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
  23. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.
  24. Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have 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.
  25. 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.
  26. A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
  27. A man can't ride your back unless it's bent.
  28. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
  29. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  30. Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
  31. A right delayed is a right denied.
  32. Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
  33. Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
  34. The sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
  35. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
    Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.
    Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
  36. Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.
  37. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
  38. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
  39. I've decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  40. Life's most urgent question is, what are you doing for others ?

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