Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes


  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

  • “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

 

  • “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
  • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

  • “The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”
  • “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
  • “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  • “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.”
  • “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

 

  • “Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.”
  • “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.”
  • “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
  • “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  • “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”
  • “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
  • “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
  • “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
  • “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  • “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
  • “To be a Negro in America is to hope against hope.”

 

  • “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
  • “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”
  • “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”
  • “Not only will we have to repent for the sins of bad people; but we also will have to repent for the appalling silence of good people.”
  • “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

 

  • “On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”
  • “The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”
  • “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”        
  • “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent”

 

  • “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

 

  • “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
  • “the time is always right to do the right thing”
  • “No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”
  • “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation were they will not be judge by the color of their skin but by the content of their character .”
  • “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
  • “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
  • “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.”
  • “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”
  • “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
  • “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
  • “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
  • “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
  • “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
  • “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
  • “Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from “Loving Your Enemies”)”
  • “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
  • “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”
  • “Free at last, Free at last, Thank god almighty we are free at last.”
  • “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. “
  • “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
  • “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
  • “We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
  • “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
  • “Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.”
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One response

  1. Bob

    Timeless words from one of the best of all time.

    February 19, 2011 at 10:30 pm

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