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

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)

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

Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1964

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

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

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important. If you are cut down in a movement that is designed to save the soul of a nation, then no other death could be more redemptive.

Spoken at Ebenezer Baptist Church the month before his death, and recalled at Dr. King's funeral.

A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

Speech on pulpit, Selma, AL, March 8, 1965. Often condensed into "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.".

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

Strength to Love (1963)

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

Why We Can't Wait

I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

Speech in Detroit, Michigan, June 23 1963

Yes, I see the Church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

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

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.

A Tough Mind And A Tender Heart (Sermon)

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.

Loving Your Enemies (1957 speech) and included in King's book Strength to Love (1963)

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Strength to Love (1963)

This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.

Stride Toward Freedom the Montgomery Story - Chapter XI Where Do We Go From Here

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)