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The 70 best quotes of Martin Luther King

The 70 best quotes of Martin Luther King

November 9, 2022

Martin Luther King is one of the most influential figures of modernity. This American Baptist pastor is especially known for his important role in defending the rights of the black population of the United States, fighting against racial segregation and participating in protests against conflicts such as the Vietnam War.

He proposed an unarmed struggle, conducting numerous marches in defense of civil rights and achieving the enactment of laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 64. His thought is prolix and inspired many people to fight for their rights and pursue their dreams during his life as after his death, murdered.

In this article you will find a selection of the best phrases of Martin Luther King .

  • Related article: "123 wise phrases to reflect on life"
  • Another selection of phrases for equality: "The 24 best sentences of Malcolm X"

Famous quotes and quotations from Martin Luther King

Here we present a series of seventy phrases by Luther King that allow us to visualize and deepen their thinking and way of understanding life and society.

1. I dream that one day, in the red hills of Georgia, the children of the former slaves and the children of the former slave owners can sit together at the table of the brotherhood

In this part of his legendary speech, King reflects his desire to achieve equality between Caucasians and African-Americans and end racial segregation and differences between people with different skin color.

2. I have a dream, a single dream, keep dreaming. Dreaming of freedom, dreaming of justice, dreaming of equality and hopefully no longer needing to dream them

In this phrase, the pastor expresses his desire to achieve equality and justice among people. It is a slogan of pro-equality movements that position themselves against racism.

3. Your truth will increase as you know how to listen to the truth of others

This phrase refers to the need to listen, value, accept and take into account the positions of others regardless of whether they resemble or contradict their own in order to have a more impartial vision and a greater perspective on things.

4. The worrying thing is not the perversity of the evil ones but the indifference of the good ones

There are people who do not accept positions different from their own, who want to impose themselves and even who will try to harm others by crushing their integrity and their rights. However, if those who do not share this point of view do not act to restrain them and protect the rights of others they are being accomplices and allowing them to succeed despite initially opposing their actions.

5. We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope

The events of life can hurt us and disappoint our expectations but we should never lose hope.

6. Darkness can not undo the darkness: only light can do it

Violence can not be stopped with more violence , but it is necessary to work from peace, peaceful disobedience and resistance and dialogue.

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7. If man has not discovered anything to die for, he is not worthy to live

Having something to fight for and what to live for, and for what we could come to give life to, is fundamental for this pastor of the Baptist church.

8. What is obtained with violence can only be maintained violently

With this phrase, King manifests his belief that achievements and social struggles are won through non-violent actions.

9. A man does not measure his height in moments of comfort, but in those of change and controversy

The worth of a person is manifested in bad times, when he must test his beliefs and aptitudes.

10. Freedom is never voluntarily granted by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the one who is being oppressed.

True freedom is what is achieved in spite of the challenges and impediments, not that which is granted as a simple whim that can come and go at the whim of the oppressor.

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

King indicates in this sentence that we must fight for what matters to us and not give in to difficulties and impediments.

12. We must build dykes of courage to contain the avalanche of fear

Fear paralyzes us and can lead us to not act or act contrary to what we would like. It is necessary to face our fears.

13. There comes a time when silence is treason

Again the author of this phrase expresses the need not to consent to the actions of those who abuse and destroy the rights of others, because silence makes them do what they want and makes us indirect accomplices of their actions by allowing them to damage to others.

14I am looking for a day in which people are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character

We should not judge people because of their physical characteristics , but by their actions and how they act with others.

15. One of the biggest problems in our society is that the concept of love and power have always been seen as opposites

Power and love have traditionally been seen as opposites, but in reality they should act jointly in order to obtain an efficient performance as well as fair to citizens.

16. Power without love is abusive and oppressive, while love without power is anemic and too permissive

Power exercised without love is despotic and does not care about others, while love without power is not capable of being decisive or acting.

17. It is always the right time to do what is right

What must be done must be done regardless of the moment, without seeking excuses.

18. Peace is not only a distant goal that we seek, but in the middle through which we reach that goal

King proposed the use of peaceful methods to fight for civil rights. It is not an end but also a means to achieve other objectives.

19. Only in the dark can you see the stars

Only those who have suffered are able to value in their rightful measure small things and moments of peace and happiness. Through suffering we learn to fight and dream about goals and objectives.

20. If I help a single person to have hope, I will not have lived in vain

Seek good for others, defend their rights or even simply make someone dream or smile, even if it affects only one person, it can give meaning to a whole life.

21. Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend

One of the most powerful forces, love can lead to change the perception we have of others and accept their views.

22. If I knew that the world ends tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today

Do not give up hope even though things can go wrong. We always have to fight for what we want.

23. Injustice anywhere is a threat to the justice of anybody

The fact that the rights of people in a place are not respected poses a threat to everyone.

24. If you can not fly, run. If you can not run, walk. If you can not walk, crawl. But whatever you do, always keep going forward

We always have to move forward, even if we have to go little by little and the road is full of difficulties.

25. I'm not black, I'm a man

In this phrase King reflects that we are all people regardless of our skin color or condition.

26. Nothing is forgotten more slowly than an offense and nothing faster than a favor

What they do for us is usually quickly forgotten by most people, whereas what is done against them usually lingers in the mind and be thrown in the face and used to justify hostilities.

27. Whatever the work of your life, do it well. A man must do his job so well that the living, the dead and the unborn could not do better

The vocation and the effort must be constant, whatever we do. If we are passionate about something, we must apply ourselves to it with all our effort.

28. The first question the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him? "

Often fear is what stops us from fighting for the rights of others even though we think they should have them. However, we must ask ourselves what will happen to the people we decide not to help and the consequences of our inaction.

29. I have decided to bet on love. Hate is too heavy a burden

Although hating the one who hurts us can be easy, it involves a heavy burden that leads us to harm each other. Although it may require more effort, forgiveness and love can lead us to achieve our goals in peace and free from the chain of hatred.

30. Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force that is made for social transformation

Sometimes nonviolence is understood as the absence of action and is considered ineffective when making changes. However, great transformations have been achieved through this force due to the manifestation of values, beliefs and intentions that can be expressed through its application without causing damage to the opposite position.

31. Faith is to take the first step, even when you do not see all the stairs

Through faith and hope the human being is able to face the unknown and to act despite not being able to foresee what will happen.

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

Enemies can hurt us, but what is really going to affect us is the passivity of those we want in the face of their own suffering.

33. Human progress is not automatic or inevitable. Each step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle

Achievements and the pursuit of justice are not achieved without effort.

34. There comes a time when one must take a position that is not secure, nor political, nor popular.But one must take it because it is the right one

King urges us to do the right thing and the right thing even though this is not socially acceptable or can cause us harm.

35. We have learned to fly like birds, to swim like fish: but we have not learned the simple art of living as brothers

The human being has achieved considerable milestones in different areas. But even today we continue to treat each other with contempt and attacking one another.

36. We are dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city from wealth and comfort, from the inner city of poverty and despair are crushed by the blows of the forces of justice

This phrase proposes to fight for justice and equality between all human beings.

37. Nothing a man does degrades him more than allowing himself to fall so low as to hate someone

Hate makes our lowest passions come out and the desire that bad things happen to the hated. The person who hates focuses his being on emotions and feelings that degrade him and distorts his performance. In fact, hatred is one of the main reasons why a large number of crimes are committed.

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

The lack of knowledge about an element or aspect of reality causes that element to be dismissed, ignored or even attacked. We fear what we do not know, and this fear often leads to rejection.

39. Despite our efforts, we have not had victories that shake the earth, but we have not been defeated either

The process of fighting against racial segregation was long and convulsive, full of difficulties. However, the fact that people did not surrender was what made many people start to evaluate the situation in a different way and express their opinion.

40. The best way to solve any problem is to eliminate its cause

Martin Luther King manifests the need to focus not on the problem in question, but on the cause that generates it, so that both the specific problem and possible sprouts or new problems are solved.

41. An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all mankind

Being able to see and fight for the needs of others and leave aside our own allows us to advance in life and in the improvement of the community and society.

42. Intelligence plus character. That is the goal of true education

Education must seek to promote not only the intelligentsia , but also help to forge character, foster positive values ​​and enhance the ability to strive for what we want and what we believe.

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43. Submission and tolerance is not the moral path, but often the most comfortable

It is easy to submit and follow what is dictated, but often we will have to fight and act against what is dictated if we want to improve the world and society.

44. If a man is called to be a sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as Michelangelo painted, or as Beethoven composed music or as Shakespeare wrote poetry. I should sweep the streets so well that all the armies of heaven and earth can stop and say: here lived a great sweeper who did his job well

All the works are worthy and, if it is what we are passionate about, it must be carried out with maximum efficiency and with the maximum possible effort. We have to give the best of ourselves in whatever we do.

45. Almost always the creative dedicated minority has made the world better

Minorities are always the ones that promote a change in society, especially those that create and introduce new elements that have not been taken into account by the majority.

46. ​​I have three dangerous dogs: ingratitude, pride and envy. When they bite they leave a deep wound

King indicates in this sentence some of the elements that pose a danger when it comes to achieving a just and egalitarian society.

47. The hope of a safe and livable world rests with disciplined nonconformists who dedicate themselves to justice, peace and fraternity

Those who fight for justice are those who can achieve a just, equal and safe future for all.

48. Wars are poor chisels to forge peaceful mornings

Violence will hardly generate peace , and when it achieves it, it is only temporary.

49. When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of spirit, which stands in stark contrast to his scientific and technological abundance

The current human being has advanced greatly in technical aspects and knowledge, but nevertheless is increasingly individualistic, egocentric, materialistic and conformist.

50. Save me from violence, whether expressed through my tongue, my fist or my heart

King always opposed violence, which he considers does not contribute anything and is useless and unnecessary whatever his form of expression.

51. Violence creates more social problems than it solves

In line with the previous sentence, we are told that many of the problems that may arise are derived from violence even when it is applied to try to solve problems.

52. The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict

King criticizes the attitude of those who do not take position regarding important situations because they prefer to ignore what happens.

53. Nobody will ride on us if we do not bend our back

This phrase urges us not to let ourselves be subdued. We must not let others put us below them or bend our rights.

54. Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the prey that blocks the flow of social progress

Although the initial intention of the law is to create a fairer world, this is usually rigid and difficult to modify, so when it does not achieve this justice it can be an impediment when introducing changes or social improvements that allow its original objective.

55. He who is unable to forgive is unable to love

We all harm one another, voluntarily or involuntarily, to others. The one who loves must be able to forgive the beloved . If we can not forgive, we will have stopped being able to love.

56. Take your first step now. It is not necessary for you to see the full path. Just take the first step. The rest will appear as you walk

The well-known Baptist pastor urges us with this phrase to dare to act despite not knowing where this action will take us.

57. Love your enemies

If we want to agree, it is necessary to establish an understanding, and for this it is necessary that the one who is considered enemy becomes a friend. We need to be able to forgive and love even those who harm us.

58. It does not matter how much you live, but how you live. If you live well and die young, you may have contributed more than a person up to eighty years worried only about herself

The time we live is not the important thing, but what we do with it to contribute to a better world.

59. Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal

The right and the legal do not always go hand in hand. Many laws have been created, modified and used for the benefit of one or a few and to the detriment of others ignoring what is fair. That is why sometimes must fight to achieve justice even if it goes against what is established by law.

60. No lie lives forever

However long the lie may be, at some point some will seek the truth. However long injustice may be, it will eventually be defeated by those who seek justice.

61. People fail to get along because they are afraid; they are afraid because they do not know each other; they do not know each other because they have not communicated

Martin Luther King reflects in this sentence the need to communicate and establish contact between different people and groups so that we learn from each other and realize that deep down we are similar, thus moving away from fear towards others.

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62. We have to talk with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we have to talk

We may not know everything and perhaps our perception may be partly wrong, but we must pronounce ourselves and show our position.

63. Returning hatred for hatred multiplies hate, adds deeper darkness to a night already starless.

Hate and violence only generate more hate and violence, so that responding to them in the same way only enlarges and prolongs the original problem.

64. Black lives on a lonely island of poverty, in the midst of an immense ocean of material prosperity

The situation of the black population in those times was dramatic: they were attacked, less valued, less paid and practically ignored by the majority of the population, besides having very little access to studies, well paid jobs or high positions in the social ladder. In fact, even marriage between people of different race was prohibited and punishable by law.

65. Dig a tunnel of hope through a dark mountain of despair

Many people fall into despair and surrender, ceasing to fight. It is necessary to overcome this feeling and have hope in order to face situations and overcome them.

66. To have enemies you do not have to declare a war; just say what you think

Expressing your thoughts and beliefs can entail the enmity of those who do not understand them or see them as a threat to their own, although they should not be censured for that.

67. Those who do not seek happiness are more likely to find it, because those who seek it forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.

In this sentence it is indicated that those who pursue at all costs to be happy tend to focus on themselves and leave everything else aside, when in reality a large part of the moments of happiness occur when we try to make others happy.

68. Never, never be afraid to do the right thing, especially if the welfare of a person or animal is at stake.The punishments of society are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way

We must fight for what we believe is right, even if it implies a breach of legality and a penalty for it.

69. Segregation is a cancer in the body politic, which must be eliminated before our democratic health can be realized. Segregation is bad because it is nothing more than a new form of covert slavery with certain subtleties of complexity. Segregation is bad because it is a system of adultery perpetuated by an illicit relationship between injustice and immorality. And in Birmingham, Alabama, and throughout the South and across the country, we are simply saying that we will no longer be able to sell our birthright to freedom for a segregated lentil dish.

In these phrases King reflects what represents the segregation, the boredom of the African-American population and its intention to fight against the injustice that it supposes.

70. Love is the most enduring power in the world. This creative force, so well exemplified in the life of our Christ, is the most powerful instrument available in the search for humanity for peace and security.

In this sentence of Martin Luther King expresses the importance of love as the main force that moves the world towards the pursuit of the common good and that seeks justice and peace.

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