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 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.”