Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

A random collection of quotes by the late civil rights and antiwar leader who was born on January 15, 1929 and assassinated on April 4, 1968.

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

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

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

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

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies — or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

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.

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

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.

Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

Nothing in all 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.

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which makes philanthropy necessary.

Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

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 moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.

The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

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.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

And read one of MLK’s great speeches, “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence,” delivered April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at the Riverside Church in New York City.