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Inspirational Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Best Quotes That Are Still True Today

martin luther king jr quotes

Before I became a psychologist, I was a Recreation Therapist for youth with legal issues. I worked in juvenile jails, at “Boys Homes,” and at residential treatment facilities where they were mandated due to legal issues of a severe nature.

No matter what, today was always a special day for them and myself. As today, I always focused on the great Martin Luther King Jr. I did a mix of activities over those 11 years of my first career, while I went to graduate school and a doctoral program. I always paid respect to this empowering man on this date.

I could not think of a better role model of those beliefs, who lived them each and every day, than him. In respect to him, I thought I would share some of the greatest Martin Luther King Jr quotes with you.


Martin Luther King Jr Quotes on Courage

1.) “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


2.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

3.) “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


4.) “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


5.) “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


6.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


7.) “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


8.) “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


9.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


10.) “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


11.) “No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

12.) “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


13.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.



14.) “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


15.) “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


16.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


17.) “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


18.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


19.) “Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

20.) “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”- Martin Luther King Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr Quotes on Education

21.) “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


22.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

23.) “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


24.) “There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


25.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


26.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


27.) “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


28.) “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


29.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


30.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

31.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


32.) “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


33.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


34.) “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


35.) “A lie cannot live.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


36.) “The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows” – Martin Luther King Jr.


37.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


38.) “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

39.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.



Martin Luther King Jr Quotes on Equality

40.) “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


41.) “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

42.) “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


43.) “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


44.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


45.) “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


46.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


47.) “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


48.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


49.) “A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


50.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


51.) “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

52.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


53.) “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King Jr.


54.) “Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


55.) “When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


56.) “That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


57.) “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


58.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


59.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


60.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


More of the Greatest Quotes by Martin Luther King Jr

61.) “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


62.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

63.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


64.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


65.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


66.) “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


67.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


68.) “We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


69.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

martin luther king jr quotes

70.) “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


71.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


72.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


73.) “What is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


74.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


75.) “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


76.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


77.) “A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


78.) “The more there are riots, the more repressive action will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


79.) “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


80.) “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


81.) “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


82.) “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


83.) “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


Did these Martin Luther King Jr quotes inspire you today?

I remember back to a group of the rowdiest young men I had. I went to the library and got an old black and white VHS tape (yes, a VHS tape), and played the entire “I have a Dream Speech”. I gave them copies to follow along.

When I explained that he did this, despite direct threats to his life, despite others telling him not too, and that he paraphrased almost the entire speech in front of all these people once he was up there, they were shocked.

But I believe they had even more respect for him than they had known. These were young men who needed to learn about non-violence and turning the other cheek. That they could get their needs met and stand up for what they believe in, in ways that did not have to become aggressive or cause them consequences.

I hope these timeless Martin Luther King Jr quotes motivated you to stand up for courage, leadership, and equality.

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