130 Martin Luther King (MLK) Quotes

120+ Martin Luther King (MLK) Quotes

Martin Luther King (MLK) Quotes  – Martin Luther King Jr.’s rousing words and writings still relevant and inspiring as they were when he was alive.

Ninety-one years after his birth on January 15, 1929, and 57 years after his iconic “I Have a Dream” address.

Celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by reading 55 of his best quotes—some of which you may have heard before, but many of which you may not have—all of which are worth repeating and reflecting on as we celebrate equality, faith, and the profound truths of his message on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Here are more than 130 Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most inspiring quotes ranging from those about peaceful protests to others.

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Martin Luther King (MLK) Quotes

120+ Martin Luther King (MLK) Quotes

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

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

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

4. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

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

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

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

8. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

9. “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.”

10. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

11. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

12. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

13. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

14. “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.”

15. “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

16. “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.”

17. “The time is always right to do what is right.”

18. “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

19. “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop… 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. “Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

120+ Martin Luther King (MLK) Quotes

21. “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.”

22. “For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”

23. “There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.”

24. “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

25.  “A lie cannot live.”

26. “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

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

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

29. “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. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

30. “There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November.”

31. “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

32. “Nonviolence is an 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.”

33. “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

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

36. “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

37. “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.”

38. “Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.” Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

39. “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will. And we shall continue to love you.”

40. “In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

120+ Martin Luther King (MLK) Quotes

41. “That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says, love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”

42. “If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have a love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.”

43. “All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’ If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.”

44. “You know, a lot of people don’t love themselves. And they go through life with deep and haunting emotional conflicts. So the length of life means that you must love yourself. And you know what loving yourself also means? It means that you’ve got to accept yourself.”

45. “I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.”

46. “You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.”

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

48. “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”

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

50. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

51. “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life, is what is important.”

52. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

53. “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”

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

55. “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.”

56. “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

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

58. “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.”

59. “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

60. “There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.”

120+ Martin Luther King Jr.'s Most Inspiring Quotes

61. “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.”

62. “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.”

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

64. “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.”

65. “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.”

66. “Every man lives in two realms: the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live.”

67. “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

68. “There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November.”

69. “A lie cannot live.”

70. “The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows”

71. “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

72. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

73. “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.”

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

75. “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. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

76. “Nonviolence is an 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.”

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

78. “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”

79. “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.”

80. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

120+ Martin Luther King Jr.'s Most Inspiring Quotes

81. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

82. “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.”

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

84. “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

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

86. “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.”

87. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

88. “You will change your mind; You will change your looks; You will change your smile, laugh, and ways but no matter what you change, you will always be you.”

89. “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.”

90. “Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

91. “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.”

92. “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.”

93. “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

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

95. “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.”

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

97. “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.”

98. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”

99. “Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.”

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

120+ Martin Luther King Jr.'s Most Inspiring Quotes

101. “That old law about ‘an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

102. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

103. “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.”

104. “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.”

105. “Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service… You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

106. “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

107. “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.”

108. “We cannot walk alone.”

109. “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

110. “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.”

111. “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.”

112. “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.”

113. “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.”

114. “We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

115. “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”

120+ Martin Luther King Jr.'s Most Inspiring Quotes

116. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

117. “Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”

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

119. “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”

120. “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”

121. “What is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy.”

123. “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.”

124. “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.”

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

126. “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

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

128. “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”

129. “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.”

130. “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

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This important speech had a role in galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement and bringing the plight of the disenfranchised to the attention of a broader national and international audience.

In commemoration of that historic occasion and in recognition of Martin Luther King. Day, we have compiled the top 120+ quotations from that address.

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