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201 Best Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes – The Ultimate List

Are you ready to get inspired!?

Are you ready to be a better person?

This ultimate list of Martin Luther King Jr. quotes will show you why he is a true hero. 

This is a monster post so the quotes are sorted into categories below for your viewing pleasure. 

Just click any link below to jump to the section of your choosing!​

Bonus - Free pdf eBook

Download the free pdf ebook "Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes - The Ultimate List - The Best 222 Quotes" which includes this whole list plus 21 Bonus Quotes not on this list!

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes eBook pdf
  • ​This entire list of quotes in pdf PLUS:
  • The top 5 most radical Martin Luther King Jr. quotes
  • Bonus Quotes (3 on love, 3 on courage, 4 on inspiration, 3 on religion, and 3 on nonviolence)
  • Quotes about what Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to be said at his own funeral

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

Love Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr.

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


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

-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.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

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.

Did You Know?

The FBI circulated the following memo after King's "I Have a Dream" Speech:

In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech yesterday he stands heads and shoulders over all other Negro leaders put together when it comes to influencing great masses of Negros. We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.

Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.” Hate is too great a burden to bear.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love.

-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.

​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.

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.

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.

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

-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.

One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. 

-Martin Luther King Jr.

What is more tragic than to see a person who has risen to the disciplined heights of tough-mindedness but has at the same time sunk to the passionless depths of hard-heartedness?

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick to love. For I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. I'm not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love, I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. And I have seen too much hate.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will. And we shall continue to love you.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

Martin Luther King apparently attempted suicide at the age of 12. After hearing that his grandmother had passed away, Martin jumped out of a second story window. Thankfully, he survived. 

Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is an entirely “neighbor-regarding concern for others,” which discovers the neighbor in every man it meets. Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friend and enemy; it is directed toward both.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Since crime often grows out of a sense of futility and despair, Negro parents must be urged to give their children the love, attention, and sense of belonging that a segregated society deprives them of.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I want to tell you this evening that it is not enough for us to talk about love, love is one of the pivotal points of the Christian faith. There is another side called justice. And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

You know, a lot of people don’t love themselves. And they go through life with deep and haunting emotional conflicts. So the length of life means that you must love yourself. And you know what loving yourself also means? It means that you’ve got to accept yourself.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Love yourself, and that means rational and healthy self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That’s the length of life. Then follow that: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You are commanded to do that. That’s the breadth of life.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr with Coretta

Courage Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Courage

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.


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.

The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

Martin Luther King Jr's name was originally Michael King Jr. but he was renamed to Martin Luther King Jr. in homage to the German theologian Martin Luther. 

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life 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.

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.

-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.

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.

Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Put yourself in a state of mind where you say to yourself, 'Here is an opportunity for me to celebrate like never before, my own power, my own ability to get myself to do whatever is necessary.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

We must substitute courage for caution.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny. To a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.

-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.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The time is always right, to do what's right.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Courage

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Even if they try to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so precious, some things so eternally true that they are worth dying for. And if a person has not found something to die for, that person isn't fit to live!

-Martin Luther King Jr.

One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

Two people died at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Not only did Martin Luther King Jr. die, but Lorraine Bailey, the wife of the motel owner, had a heart attack and died after seeing King get shot.

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying double the price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative is ours. The initiative to stop must be ours.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

And I won’t rest, I will face intimidation, and everything else, along with these other stalwart fighters for democracy and for citizenship. We don’t mind it, so long as justice comes out of it.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

There are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. 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.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -- and yet out of bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. Shaking Hands

Religion Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Religion

Martin Luther King Jr.

Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.


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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.

-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.

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.

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.

If physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing could be more Christian.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I am impelled to write you concerning the responsibilities laid upon you to live as Christians in the midst of an unChristian world. That is what I had to do. That is what every Christian has to do.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

They tell me that in America you have within Protestantism more than two hundred and fifty six denominations. The tragedy is not so much that you have such a multiplicity of denominations, but that most of them are warring against each other with a claim to absolute truth. This narrow sectarianism is destroying the unity of the Body of Christ. You must come to see that God is neither a Baptist nor a Methodist; He is neither a Presbyterian nor a Episcopalian. God is bigger than all of our denominations. If you are to be true witnesses for Christ, you must come to see that America.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

We need to pledge ourselves anew to the cause of Christ. We must capture the spirit of the early church. Wherever the early Christians went, they made a triumphant witness for Christ. Whether on the village streets or in the city jails, they daringly proclaimed the good news of the gospel.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

In contrast to ethical relativism, Christianity sets forth a system of absolute moral values and affirms that God has placed within the very structure of this universe certain moral principles that are fixed and immutable.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Like the early Christians, we must move into a sometimes hostile world armed with the revolutionary gospel of Jesus Christ. With this powerful gospel we shall boldly challenge the status quo.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The confidence that God is mindful of the individual is of tremendous value in dealing with the disease of fear, for it gives us a sense of worth, of belonging, and of at homeness in the universe.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

King almost died ten years before his ultimate death. Izola Curry attempted to assassinate King and stabbed King in the chest with a steel letter opener. King wrote in his autobiography:

The razor tip of the instrument had been touching my aorta and my whole chest had to be opened to extract it. 'If you had sneezed during all those hours of waiting,' Dr. Maynard said, 'your aorta would have been punctured and you would have drowned in your own blood.'

When I took up the cross I recognized it's meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Worship at its best is a social experience with people of all levels of life coming together to realize their oneness and unity under God. Whenever the church, consciously or unconsciously caters to one class it loses the spiritual force of the "whosoever will, let him come", doctrine and is in danger of becoming a little more than a social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. History has proven time and time again that unmerited suffering is redemptive.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

My call to the ministry was not a miraculous or supernatural something. On the contrary it was an inner urge calling me to serve humanity.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The greatness of our God lies in the fact that He is both tough minded and tender hearted. ... God expresses His tough mindedness in His justice and wrath and His tenderheartedness in His love and grace. ... On the one hand, God is a God of justice who punished Israel for her wayward deeds, and on the other hand, He is a forgiving father whose heart was filled with unutterable joy when the prodigal son returned home.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself. It, too, is based on a lack of faith. We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

God is able to give you the power to endure that which cannot be changed... Why be anxious? Come what may, God is able.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men, and brown men, and yellow men; God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

This is the glory of our religion: that when man decides to rise up from his mistakes, from his sin, from his evil, there is a loving God saying, “Come home, I still love you."

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The cross may mean the death of your popularity. It may mean the death of your bridge to the White House. It may mean the death of a foundation grant. It may cut your budget down a little, but take up your cross and just bear it. And that is the way I have decided to go.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent -- and often even vocal -- sanction of things as they are.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I hope you can find some consolation from Christianity's affirmation that death is not the end. Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more lofty significance. Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Now I say to you in conclusion, life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him, and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

This is what God needs today: Men and women who will ask, "What will happen to humanity if I don’t help? What will happen to the civil rights movement if I don’t participate? What will happen to my city if I don’t vote? What will happen to the sick if I don’t visit them?" This is how God judges people in the final analysis.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

And I’m here to tell you today that we need God. Modern man may know a great deal, but his knowledge does not eliminate God.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

King skipped two grades in high school and received a bachelor's degree at the age of 19.

As I come to my conclusion this morning, I want to say that we should search for him. We were made for God, and we will be restless until we find rest in him.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

But over and over again I can still hear Sister Pollard’s words: "God’s going to take care of you." So today I can face any man and any woman with my feet solidly placed on the ground and my head in the air because I know that when you are right, God will fight your battle.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, I’ve seen the lightning flash. I’ve heard the thunder roll. I’ve felt sin-breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. But I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. And I go on in believing that. Reach out and find the breadth of life.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

This is the God of the universe. And if you believe in him and worship him, something will happen in your life. You will smile when others around you are crying. This is the power of God.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. with Malcolm X

Inspirational Quotes

​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. Quotes on Inspiration

Martin Luther King Jr.

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The time is always right to do what is right.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

While King was a Crozer Theological Seminary, he was introduced to and was "deeply influenced" by Ghandi's philosophy of nonviolence.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-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.

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 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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

A right delayed is a right denied.

-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.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

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.

And a man has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his own individual concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

In 1955 when King was chosen to be the spokesperson for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he was virtually unknown. Even heroes have to start somewhere. 

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and 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.

Unless you have found something in life to live for that is more important to you than your own life, you will always be a slave. For all another man needs to do is threaten to take your life to get you to do his bidding.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I always contended that we as a race must not seek to rise from a position of disadvantage to one of advantage, but to create a moral balance in society where democracy and brotherhood would be reality for all men.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

And you know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. 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. There comes a time.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I want to say that in all of our actions we must stick together. Unity is the great need of the hour, and if we are united we can get many of the things that we not only desire but which we justly deserve.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Number one in your life's blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don't allow anybody to make you fell that you're nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

-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.

But you know in life we’re called upon to do this. A Ford car trying to be a Cadillac is absurd, but if a Ford will accept itself as a Ford, it can do many things that a Cadillac could never do: it can get in parking spaces that a Cadillac can never get in. And in life some of us are Fords and some of us are Cadillacs.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. 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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Lyndon Johnson Signing with Martin Luther King Jr.

Nonviolence Quotes

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Nonviolence

Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

But I am also concerned about our moral uprightness and the health of our souls. Therefore I must oppose any attempt to gain our freedom by the methods of malice, hate, and violence that have characterized our oppressors.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-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.

As I said, I want to open by saying that I'm still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity.

-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 doom.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

In his effort to nonviolently fight against discrimination and inequality, King spoke more than 2500 times. It took practice to end up with the "I Have a Dream" speech.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

All my adult life I have deplored violence and war as instruments for achieving solutions to mankind’s problems. I am firmly committed to the creative power of nonviolence as the force which is capable of winning lasting and meaningful brotherhood and peace.

-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 non-violent resistor not only avoids external, physical violence, but he avoids internal violence of spirit. He not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he refuses to hate him. And he stands with understanding, goodwill at all times

-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.

So often I had castigated those who by silence or inaction condoned and thereby cooperated with the evils of racial injustice… I had to therefore speak out if I was to erase my name from the bombs which fall over North or South Vietnam, from the canisters of napalm. The time had come — indeed it was past due — when I had to disavow and disassociate myself from those who in the name of peace burn, maim, and kill.

-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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.

-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.

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.

Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Violence is not only impractical but immoral.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

[Nonviolence] is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil. It is evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

This is the unusual thing about nonviolence -- nobody is defeated, everybody shares in the victory.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The time had come- indeed it was past due- when I had to disavow and dissociate myself from those who in the name of peace burn, maim, and kill.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Nonviolence is power, but it is the right and good use of power.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Nonviolence

-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.

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.

Violence never really deals with the basic evil of the situation. Violence may murder the murderer, but it doesn’t murder murder. Violence may murder the liar, but it doesn’t murder lie; it doesn’t establish truth. Violence may even murder the dishonest man, but it doesn’t murder dishonesty. Violence may go to the point of murdering the hater, but it doesn’t murder hate. It may increase hate. It is always a descending spiral leading nowhere. This is the ultimate weakness of violence: It multiplies evil and violence in the universe. It doesn’t solve any problems.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface hidden tension that is already alive.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make 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 perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I cannot make myself believe that God wanted me to hate. I'm tired of violence, I've seen too much of it. I've seen such hate on the faces of too many sheriffs in the South. And I'm not going to let my oppressor dictate to me what method I must use. Our oppressors have used violence. Our oppressors have used hatred. Our oppressors have used rifles and guns. I'm not going to stoop down to their level. I want to rise to a higher level. We have a power that can't be found in Molotov cocktails.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Did You Know?

Dr. King was jailed 29 times. Unjust laws are meant to be broken I guess. 

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

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

We are here, we are here this evening because we’re tired now. And I want to say that we are not here advocating violence. We have never done that. I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people. We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That’s all.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; selfpurification; and direct action.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and halftruths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension... We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion, before it can be cured.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

This way of nonviolence has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses. It weakens his morale and at the same time it works on his conscience and he does not know how to handle it.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Even if he tries to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for; and if a man has not discovered something that he would die for, he isn’t fit to live. And this is what the nonviolent movement does.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

It is either nonviolence or nonexistence and the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension in nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m more convinced than ever before that violence can not solve the problems of the world. Violence is both impractical and immoral. This is why I’ve tried in my little way to teach it in our struggle for racial justice that I’ve come to see and I believe with all my heart that we can not make the great moral contribution to our nation that we should make, and we can not win the battle for justice if we stoop to the point of using violence in our struggle.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

And so we must rise up and beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks and nations must not rise up against nations, neither must they study war anymore.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

There is a powerful motivation when a suppressed people enlist in an army that marches under the banners of nonviolence.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

A nonviolent army has a magnificent universal quality. To join an army that trains its adherents in the methods of violence, you must be of a certain age. But in Birmingham, some of the most valued foot soldiers were youngsters ranging from elementary to teenage high school and college students.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

For acceptance in the armies that maim and kill, one must be physically sound, possessed of straight limbs and accurate vision. But in Birmingham, the lame and the halt and the crippled could and did join up.

-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.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr. - A reminder that if God is on our side, no man can stop us.

Bonus - Free pdf eBook

Download the free pdf ebook "Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes - The Ultimate List - The Best 222 Quotes" which includes this whole list plus 21 Bonus Quotes not on this list!

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes eBook pdf
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