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30 Soul-stirring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a polarizing Nobel Peace Prize-winning figure, charismatic preacher, and defender of desegregation is honored for challenging racist laws and the legislators who upheld them with non-violent action during a time when violence rained down on Black people who done nothing more than simply be born Black.


On the third Monday of January each year, we observe the life and legacy of Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The fight to observe MLK Day as a federal holiday did not come without opposition. No doubt, in 2027 when the FBI recordings are made public of what took place in the hotel rooms of Dr. King, views about the man will undoubtedly provoke many to question his character.


"Unnatural sex acts", witnessing alleged rape, and founder member of the "International Association for the Advancement of P*ssy Eaters," aside, this nation found Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one mere man, to be enough of a threat that he was MURDER by the United States Government having been found guilty in a civil lawsuit of conspiring to assassinate him. He was indeed assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was 39 years old.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired (and angered) many with his soul-stirring speeches, calling for radical change that would allow Black people guaranteed access to civil liberties. Let these quotes encourage you in the months to come and beyond.

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1. “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” 2. “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” 3. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” 4. “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.” 5. “A riot is the language of the unheard.” 6. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” 7. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” 8. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

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Related: An Evening with Author and Anti-Racist Activist Ibram X.Kendi and Author and Scholar Imani Perry [VIDEO] 9. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” 10. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” 11. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” 12. “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.” 13. “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.” 14. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

Related: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Last Speech

15. “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.” 16. “The time is always right to do what is right.” 17. “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.” 18. “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” 19. “In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” 20. “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.” 21. “You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Related: 15 Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice Quotes to Inspire You to Join the Revolution 22. “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” 23. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” 24. “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” 25. “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.” 26. “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.” 27. "A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent." 28. "A productive and happy life is not something you find; it is something you make." 29. "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." 30. "Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity."

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