Famous Quotes By Martin Luther King, Jr.


  1. A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
  2. A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.
  3. A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.
  4. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
  5. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
  6. At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
  7. 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.
  8. Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.
  9. 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.
  10. Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
  11. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor it must be demanded by the oppressed.
  12. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilati
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
  17. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.
  18. I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  19. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.
  20. 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.
  21. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.
  22. It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.
  23. 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.
  24. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
  25. Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
  26. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
  27. Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
  28. One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society... shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.
  29. One who breaks an unjust 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 law.
  30. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
  31. Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
  32. 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.
  33. Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.
  34. Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
  35. Science investigates religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power religion gives man wisdom which is control.
  36. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
  37. Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
  38. That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.
  39. The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
  40. 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?'
  41. The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
  42. The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
  43. The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
  44. 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.
  45. The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.
  46. The sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
  47. The time is always right to do what is right.
  48. The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
  49. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
  50. There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.
  51. War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.
  52. We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
  53. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
  54. We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
  55. We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
  56. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the postive affirmation of peace.
  57. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
  58. We must use time creatively.
  59. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
  60. 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.

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