Article image

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

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

Share Quote

Photo credit: AFP / Stringer/ Getty Images

Author image
About the Author
Kristen Warfield
Kristen is a writer, mom and cat lover living in New York.
Play more header background
Play more icon
Daily Question
What playwright said, “Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand"?

More Inspiration

happiness theme icon

The great tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love.

separator icon
William Somerset Maugham
motivation theme icon

Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance.

separator icon
Abigail Adams
hope theme icon

My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully, and yell for help if you need it.

separator icon
Judy Blume
love theme icon

Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit.

separator icon
George Santayana
wisdom theme icon

Success isn’t about how your life looks to others; it’s about how it feels to you.

separator icon
Michelle Obama
happiness theme icon

If it is true for you, it is true for someone else, and you are no longer alone.

separator icon
Colson Whitehead
motivation theme icon

That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another’s. We see so much only as we possess.

separator icon
Henry David Thoreau
hope theme icon

The heart is wiser than the intellect.

separator icon
Josiah Gilbert Holland
love theme icon

Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.

separator icon
Henry David Thoreau
wisdom theme icon

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

separator icon
Vincent van Gogh
happiness theme icon

In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.

separator icon
Patti Smith