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

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More from Martin Luther King Jr.

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 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.