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Ten Martin Luther King Jr. quotes

On the federal holiday, the Monitor remembers 12 Martin Luther King Jr. quotes and his 'I have a dream' speech.

January 18, 2010

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in this 1966 file photo.

John Littlewood / The Christian Science Monitor/ File

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Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on love, justice, and human purpose changed the way America – and the world – thought about race and demonstrated the power of nonviolence to overcome even the most entrenched prejudices.

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• Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.

• I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Dec. 10, 1964

• Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.

• Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

• I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

• When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

• Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. –letter from Birmingham jail, April 16, 1963

• The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers. –"Strength to Love"

• I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

• 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. –"Strength to Love"

'I have a dream' speech

Address at March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But 100 years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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