What can I say about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that you do not already know? I spent two weeks doing my best to come up with the words to write the introduction for my feature on Dr. King without repeating the facts on him that we all have read in our history books. So I decide to tell you all about my newfound admiration for him instead.
When I was younger, I always resented that Dr. King received more recognition for the advancement of Civil Rights than any other Civil Rights leader. This led me to learn more about and become inspired by Medgar Evans, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin.
Fast forward to last year. As I was searching for Marcus Garvey’s Writings, I stumbled upon The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. After reading his autobiography, I learned about the process he went through to become a Civil Rights leader. I learned how many times he doubted himself – but NEVER his mission.
All that I learned about Dr. King led me to admire him more as a man, an author, a speaker, and as a leader. I would love to share some of my favorite inspiring quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. These quotes are from his famous speeches, interviews, and from the book, ‘The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.’. When finished, also check out our collection of unity quotes for additional inspiration.
Famous Quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. on Having More Courage
1. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
2. “No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
3. “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
4. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
5. “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
6. “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important” – Martin Luther King Jr.
7. “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
8. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” – Martin Luther King Jr.
9. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
10. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
11. “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
12. “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
13. “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
14. “Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
16. “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Also check out these powerful civil rights quotes striding towards equality.
Inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Equality and Forgiveness
17. “When people are voiceless, they will have temper tantrums like a child who has not been paid attention to. And riots are massive temper tantrums from a neglected and voiceless people.” – The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. (page 293)
18. “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a 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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
19. “And I’m simply saying this morning, that you should resolve that you will never become so secure in your thinking or your living that you forget the least of these…In some sense, all of us are the least of these, but there are some who are least than the least of these.
I try to get it over to my children early, morning after morning devotions, I couldn’t pray my prayer without saying, ‘God, help us, as we sit at this table to realize that there are those who are less fortunate than we are.’
And I said to my little children, ‘I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.’” – Resolutions: From a sermon on January 7, 1968
20. “The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows” – Martin Luther King Jr.
21. “He was an eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems that we face as a race. While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problems, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem.” – Martin Luther King Jr on Malcolm X
22. “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
23. “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
24. “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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
25. “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of war quotes from writers, politicians, and more.
You might also like these Howard Thurman quotes that helped shape a movement.
Which of these quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. struck a chord in you?
I hope that these quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. will help you find courage when things look impossible to overcome. I hope they lead us all to love others no matter our differences.
August 10, 2022 5:00 AM EST