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)

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More from Martin Luther King Jr.

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 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

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.".

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.