70+ Inspiring Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr.



On Aug. 28, 1963, in front of a crowd of 250,000, rather than sharing the words he had written, Martin Luther King, Jr. shared a dream that has captivated the nation ever since. 


55+ years later King is still inspiring the masses with his words of hope and inspiration.



  • Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."

  • "There comes a time when silence is betrayal."

  • "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." 

  • "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

  • "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."

  • "That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing."

  • "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."

  • "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

  • "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

  • "Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education."

  • "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."

  • "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

  • "I have decided to stick to love ... Hate is too great a burden to bear."

  • "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."

  • "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."

  • "No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they'd die for."

  • "Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude."

  • "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."

  • "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

  • "We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear."

  • "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."

  • "We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."

  • "I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls."

  • "We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

  • "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."

  • "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 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."

  • "No person has the right to rain on your dreams."

  • “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."

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

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

  • “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

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

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

  • “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.”

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

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

  • “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.”

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

  • “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.”

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

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

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

  • “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’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.”

  • “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.”

  • “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.”

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

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

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

  • “A lie cannot live.”

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

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

  • “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.”

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

  • “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.”

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

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

  • “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is 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 psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.” Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

  • “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.”

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

  • “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.”

  • “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.”

  • “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.”

  • “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.”

  • “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.”

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

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

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

  • “A right delayed is a right denied.”

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

Which of his quotes most inspires you? 


King (age 24) (Getty Images)

King, his wife, Coretta Scott, and their first-born child, Yolanda,  at home in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956. (Getty Images)

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