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Martin Luther King Quotations

Guest Author - Danielle Hollister

  1. "A lie cannot live."

  2. "A man can't ride your back unless it's bent."

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

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

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

  6. "A right delayed is a right denied."

  7. "A riot is the language of the unheard."

  8. "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

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

  10. "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."

  11. "Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail."

  12. "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."

  13. "Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them."

  14. "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. "

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

  16. "Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see."

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

  18. "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. "

  19. "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

  20. "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."

  21. "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."

  22. "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."

  23. "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."

  24. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

  25. "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

  26. "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. "

  27. "I have a dream that one day ... the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."

  28. "I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And 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."

  29. "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

  30. "I want to be the white man's brother, not his brother-in-law."

  31. "If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well."

  32. "If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive."

  33. "If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control."

  34. "If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolute night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos."

  35. "If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, "There lived a great people - a black people - who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization."

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

  37. "It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society. "

  38. "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important."

  39. "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal."

  40. "Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness."

  41. "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."

  42. "Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."

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

  44. "One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society... shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam."

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    Vietnam Reflections

  45. "One who breaks an unjust 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 law. "

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

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

  48. "Put yourself in a state of mind where you say to yourself, "Here is an opportunity for me to celebrate like never before, my own power, my own ability to get myself to do whatever is necessary."

  49. "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."

  50. "Science investigates religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power religion gives man wisdom which is control."

  51. "Seeing is not always believing."

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

  53. "So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"

  54. "The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one. "

  55. "The first question which 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?""

  56. "The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."

  57. "The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

  58. "The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility."

  59. "The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

  60. "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice."

  61. "The Negro's great stumbling block in the drive toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice."

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

  63. "We are not makers of history. We are made by history."

  64. "We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."

  65. "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."

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

  67. "We must use time creatively."

  68. "We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. "

  69. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. "

  70. "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have 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. "

  71. "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope. "

  72. "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' Why We Can't Wait 1963.
  73. "From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, let freedom ring ... Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Address at Lincoln Memorial during March on Washington, 28 Aug 1963
  74. "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it. "

  75. "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. "

  76. "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. I have a dream today that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream We are free at last."

  77. "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true eaning of it's creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

  78. "If man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live. "

  79. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait, 1963
  80. "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me. But it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
  81. "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. "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' in Why We Can't Wait 1963.
  82. "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others? "

  83. "Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. "

  84. "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. "

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

  86. "One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. "

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

  88. "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. "

  89. "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. "

  90. "The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. "

  91. "The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important. "

  92. "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail in Why We Can't Wait 1963.
  93. "The sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Address at Lincoln Memorial during March on Washington, 28 Aug 1963
  94. "The strong man is the man who can stand up for his rights and not hit back."

  95. "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. "

  96. "We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobile rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind. "

  97. "We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers. "

  98. "We will speed the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing ...Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last."
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Address at Lincoln Memorial during March on Washington, 28 Aug 1963
  99. "We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. "

  100. "....when we let it ring from every village, and every hamlet, from every state and every city , we will be able to speed up the day when all of god children...will be able to join hands and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual, 'free at last! free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!'"

  101. "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. "

  102. "Without justice, there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. "
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Stride Towards Freedom
  103. "Without love, benevolence becomes egotism. "

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Content copyright © 2014 by Danielle Hollister. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Danielle Hollister. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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