50 Influential Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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1. “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.”

2. “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.”

3. “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.

4. “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.”

5. “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

6. “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

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

8. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

9. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

10. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

11. “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”

12. “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

13. “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.”

14. “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 it’s 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.”

15. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

16. “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.”

17. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo 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.'”

18. “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”

19. “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.”

20. “The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”

21. “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.”

22. “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

23. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

24. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

25. “The time is always right to do the right thing.”

26. “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.”

27. “No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”

28. “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

29. “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

30. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.”

31. “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.”

32. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

33. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

34. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

35. “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

36. “Life’s most persistent and urgent questions is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

37. “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.”

38. “As my sufferings mounted, I soon realize that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation – either to react with bitterness or to seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”

39. “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

40. “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

41. “The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die.”

42. “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.”

43. “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.”

44. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

45. “A lie cannot live.”

46. “A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

47. “A right delayed is a right denied.”

48. “A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.”

49. “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”

50. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

24 thoughts on “50 Influential Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1. Thank you for the lovely tribute–just now I was watching a program on the Smithsonian Channel about Rev King. I was struck anew by the part in his speech just preceding his death, where he speaks about fearing no man, being unafraid–because He had seen the promise and glory of God. Surely that must have comforted his family, that although his death came about in an act of terrible violence–he was fully at peace with God. Definitely something to “selah” today. God bless you.

      1. I love Marthin because we are living as a black people because of him!!!! As my favorite speech that he Said is <> and thank you for sharing ….

  2. I love marthin because we are still living as black people because of him !!!!! As my favorite speech that he Said was <> thank you for sharing ……

  3. Martin had such a wonder working soul & his message has enriched those who had the opportunity to access it besides preventing some of the atrocities we could have witnessed in the world

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