Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes (170 Quotes)


    The Negro all over the South must come to the point that he can say to his white brother 'We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force.'



    We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.




    If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played 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 streetsweeper who did his job well.

    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.

    Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.



    Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one's soul.


    From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, let freedom ring .... Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill....


    Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

    The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.




    Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

    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?"

    Even though I have never had an abrupt conversion experience, religion has been real to me and closely knitted to life. In fact the two cannot be separated religion for me is life.

    History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

    Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse. The true with the false and the false with the true.

    Our forebears labored without wages. They made cotton 'king.' And yet out of a bottomless vitality, they continued to thrive and develop.

    Most of these people will never make the headlines and their names will not appear in Who's Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness' sake.

    The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

    We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.

    If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolute night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

    I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

    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.

    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.

    Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.

    The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.


    I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their 'thus saith the Lord' far beyond the boundaries of their home towns and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Graeco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

    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.

    Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until I am seventy five and yet not ever truly to have lived.

    I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.


    If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now surely fail. ... Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho' we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny.




    We have genuflected before the god of science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.



    The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.


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