Martin Luther King Jr. in his own words: 20 quotes that ring true today

January 15, 2023
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Martin Luther King Jr. is most known for his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, but over his lifetime as an orator, pastor, and activist, he made many more inspirational and powerful statements.

Monday we celebrate Dr. King and the impact he made on society.

Here are some of the Atlanta native’s most pertinent quotes.

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

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

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

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

“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.”

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

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

“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.”

“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 love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”


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