Martin Luther King Jr.

Quotations

Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 16 April 1963

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.

Strength to Love (1963)

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

The Measure of a Man (1958)

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”… 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. I have a dream today.

"I Have a Dream," speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)

The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.

Strength to Love (1963)

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

'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.

From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, let freedom ring … Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill …

Address at Lincoln Memorial during March on Washington, 28 Aug 63.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live.

Strength to Love (1963)

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

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.

Strength to Love (1963)

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.

'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.

The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.

I Have A Dream (1963)

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.

'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.

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

Strength to Love (1963)

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

'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like any man, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up 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. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

I've Been to the Mountaintop (Speech in Memphis, TN, April 3 1968)

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.

'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Stride Towards Freedom
Often paraphrased as "One who condones evils is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it."

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

Strength to Love (1963)

We will speed the 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 … “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.

'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.

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

Strength to Love pt. 4 ch. 3 (1963)

We have genuflected before the god of science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate.

Strength to Love ch. 13 (1963)