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Martin Luther King Quotes

Martin Luther King Quotes

Quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. remain a source of positive energy and motivation whenever a burst of enthusiasm is required. Through this article, I share with you the timeless wisdom of a great man, who did not allow history to take its own path unquestionably.
Ankana Dey Choudhury
Very few will have forgotten the momentum created by the champion of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the fateful Friday of 28th August, 1963, the famous stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. The famous "I Have a dream..." Martin Luther King speech delivered during the 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom', boosted the crowd of 20,000 with such enthusiasm and stirred such passion into their blood that the FBI had to declare this illustrious orator as 'the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country'. Throughout his career, King strove to infuse the blood of the wrongly oppressed with zeal to stand up, with his quotes, whether presented through his speeches or books.

On Justice

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard."

"The sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality."

"A right delayed is a right denied."

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

"Our nettlesome task is to discover how to organize our strength into compelling power." ―In his book "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?"

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

"An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law."

"There are two types of laws - there are just laws and there are unjust laws... What is the difference between the two? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust." ~ In "Letter From a Birmingham Jail"

"If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas." ―In an interview given in 1968.

On the Power of Love

"At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love." ―In his book "Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story"

"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." ―In his book "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?"

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one's whole being into the being of another."

"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."

On Positive Human Abilities

"A man who won't die for something is not fit to live." ―Extract of a speech delivered in Detroit on 23rd June, 1963.

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."

"Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."

"The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers."

"I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation... I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow... I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed."

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better."

"The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy."

"If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive."

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

On Effects of Human Weakness

"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan."

"A man can't ride your back unless it's bent."

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." ―In his book "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?"

On Philosophical Truths

"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see."

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

"Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy." ―In his book "The Measures of Man"

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

""It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever-present. It is quite easy for me to think of the universe as basically friendly mainly because of my uplifting hereditary and environmental circumstances. It is quite easy for me to lean more toward optimism than pessimism about human nature mainly because of my childhood experiences. It is impossible to get at the roots of one's religious attitudes without taking in account the psychological and historical factors that play upon the individual." ―In an essay called "An Autobiography of Religious Development" composed in class at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1949.

"A lie cannot live."

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." ―In his book "Strength to Love".

On Racism

"Discrimination is a hell-hound 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." ―Extract of speech delivered in Atlanta on 16th August, 1967 at the occasion of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

"When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also declare that the white man does not abide by law in the ghettos. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions of civil services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them, but they do not make them, any more than a prisoner makes a prison." ―In his book "The Trumpet of Conscience"

"Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail."

Before I sign off, I would like to leave you with my favorite quote which drips of hope for a better future, for the day when all human beings truly evolve and rise to humanity.

"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."