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

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)