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Martin Luther King Jr.'s Most Famous Quotes

A minister, scholar, and activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as one of the most influential leaders in history, thanks to his lifelong dedication to fighting racial prejudice and advancing the rights of Black Americans.

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, King rose from a Baptist minister to a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, playing a pivotal role in ending racial segregation in the United States. He worked closely with political leaders to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity, as well as the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed long-held discriminatory voting practices. King achieved these milestones and more by preaching nonviolent protest and peaceful civil disobedience, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

When King was tragically assassinated on April 4, 1968, he left the mourning nation with a great deal of wisdom to remember him by. King’s powerful speeches, books, sermons, and letters are full of words and messages that continue to inspire generations of people. Here are some of the leader’s most famous quotes about love, hope, peace, and above all, justice.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
— “Strength to Love,” 1963

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
— Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.
— "I Have A Dream" speech, 1963

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.
— “Stride Toward Freedom,’ 1958

Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.
— “Stride Toward Freedom,” 1958

Keep moving. Let nothing slow you up. Move on with dignity and honor and respectability.
— "Give Us the Ballot" address, 1957

Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'
— "Conquering Self-Centeredness" sermon, 1957

The time is always right to do what's right.
— Address to Cornell College, 1962

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
— Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.
— Speech during the Great March on Detroit, 1963

There is another side called justice. And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.
— Montgomery Bus Boycott speech, 1955

We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force.
— "Give Us the Ballot" address, 1957

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.
— Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964

Our feet are tired, but our souls are rested.
— “How Long, Not Long” speech, 1965

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
— "I Have A Dream" speech, 1963

Photo credit: AFP / Stringer/ Getty Images

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About the Author
Kristen Warfield
Kristen is a writer, mom and cat lover living in New York.
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