A complete collection of some of Martin Luther King Jr. famous quotes that changed the way we see ourselves as a nation, as one people irrespective of our faith, religion, or race.

One of MLK Jr. quotes “And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” as resurfaced in the wake of the killing of an unharmed black american man George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin.

This quote is gaining a lot of attention with divided minds on what exactly MLK Jr. meant by this. Many people have drawn different conclusions on what he meant by this but in the end, we may never know.

For those that may not know this, there are many instances of MLK Jr. embracing non-violence as the way to make a statement. So lets look beyond this one quote and take a deep look at the man in question, who touched the life’s of many African Americans in his time.

The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes closed and a visionary has his eyes open.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • The fewer the words, the better the prayer.
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
  • Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
  • Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
  • One of these days I’m going to put my body where my mind is.
  • Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
  • We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.
  • Carve a tunnel of hope through a dark mountain of disappointment
  • We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love
  • At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
  • He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.
  • Through our scientific and technological genius we’ve made of this world a neighborhood. And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.
  • We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.
  • The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
  • Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
  • Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.
  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
  • The time is always right to do what is right.

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.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.
  • Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world
  • Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
  • I am what I am because of who we all are.
  • When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.
  • We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
  • If there is to be peace on earth and good will toward men, we must finally believe in the ultimate morality of the universe, and believe that all reality hinges on moral foundations.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.
  • 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.
  • We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.
  • God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. History has proven time and time again that unmerited suffering is redemptive.
  • Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?
  • Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.
  • Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.
  • Right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant
  • The road to freedom is a difficult, hard road. It always makes for temporary setbacks.
  • Courage faces fear and thereby masters it
  • Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.
  • Peace if possible, but truth at any rate.
  • Justice too long delayed is justice denied.
  • True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
  • No one can pretend that because a people may be oppressed, every individual member is virtuous and worthy.
  • The more I thought about human nature, the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin/mistakes causes us to use our minds to rationalize our action.
  • In our society, it is psychological murder to deprive a man of a job – you are in substance saying to that man “You have no right to exist.
  • We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
  • The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
  • Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
  • There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.
  • The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.
  • Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
  • If you have not discovered something you are willing to die for, then you are not fit to live.
  • Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
  • 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.
  • We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.
  • When schools flourish, all flourishes
  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
  • 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.
  • Too unconcerned to love and too passionless to hate, too detached to be selfish and too lifeless to be unselfish, too indifferent to experience joy and too cold to express sorrow, they are neither dead nor alive; they merely exist.
  • We did not hesitate to call our movement an army. But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.
  • We must use time creatively – and forever realize that the time is always hope to do great things.
  • We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
  • 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.
  • Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.
  • A right delayed is a right denied.
  • Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
  • Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake

The surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.
  • What is more tragic than to see a person who has risen to the disciplined heights of tough-mindedness but has at the same time sunk to the passionless depths of hard-heartedness?
  • Seeing is not always believing.
  • The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.
  • Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.
  • Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
  • Like anybody, I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.
  • Violence brings only temporary victories; violence, by creating many more social problems than it solves, never brings permanent peace.
  • The non-violent resistor not only avoids external, physical violence, but he avoids internal violence of spirit. He not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he refuses to hate him. And he stands with understanding, goodwill at all times.
  • Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
  • What affects one in a major way, affects all in a minor way.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
  • The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
  • A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
  • The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
  • Intelligence plus character is the true meaning of education.
  • It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.
  • It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless.
  • Only in the darkness can you see the stars.

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

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
  • For you will never be what you ought to be until they [your fellow humans] are what they ought to be.
  • Our loyalties must transend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.
  • Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
  • I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.
  • I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.
  • If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way
  • This is the unusual thing about nonviolence — nobody is defeated, everybody shares in the victory.
  • 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.
  • One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, cruelly mocked, but it an never be taken away unless it is surrendered.
  • We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
  • Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.
  • We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
  • One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
  • Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.
  • There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.

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

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • 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.
  • Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody.
  • The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.
  • It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times.
  • Through violence you may murder the hater, but you cannot murder hate.
  • Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
  • I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.
  • We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
  • As a young man with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  • 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.
  • A lie cannot live.
  • Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
  • What I’m saying to you this morning is that Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.
  • Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice.
  • He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.
  • Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why the psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.” Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
  • Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.
  • Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
  • 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.
  • I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
  • 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.
  • We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.
  • Bitterness has not the capacity to make the distinction between some and all. When some members of the dominant group, particularly those in power, are racist in attitude and practice, bitterness accuses the whole group.
  • We must constantly build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
  • One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
  • Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
  • Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree
  • Violence is not only impractical but immoral.
  • If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.
  • True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
  • The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.
  • Superstition, idolatry and hypocrisy have ample wages, but the truth goes begging.
  • Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
  • There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
  • But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.
  • The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
  • Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.
  • Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
  • Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.
  • One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.
  • 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
  • Our only hope lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.
  • All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
  • For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.
  • Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.
  • Science investigates religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power religion gives man wisdom which is control.
  • A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.
  • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.

The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself. It, too, is based on a lack of faith. We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.

Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
Complete Martin Luther King Jr Quotes
  • One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.
  • Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny. To a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.
  • No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
  • No person has the right to rain on your dreams.
  • Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.
  • The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.
  • You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say
  • 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.
  • We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.
  • In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
  • We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.
  • Quietly endure, silently suffer and patiently wait.
  • In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as right-to-work. It provides no rights and no works. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining. We demand this fraud be stopped.
  • The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.
  • The question is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

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. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.

  • The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven.
  • One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.
  • I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed, without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.
  • It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.
  • Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.
  • 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.
  • When I took up the cross I recognized it’s meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.
  • We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words “Too Late”.
  • One who condones evils is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates 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.
  • Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.
  • Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.
  • We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
  • It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.
  • Who has skill in the art of music is of good temperament and fitted for all things.
  • 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.
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