25 Powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes That Continue To Inspire Us

Today, January 18, marks a special day for American history. It’s a day named after Martin Luther King Junior – a baptist minister who advocated against racial segregation, now known as an influential African American civil rights leader. Some of his accomplishments include leading the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, starting the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and organizing protests in Alabama and Washington. Because of his activism work, the Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, facilities and workplaces was passed in 1964. In the following year, the Voting Rights Act was passed. 

Martin Luther King Jr. was monumental in the Civil Rights movement and the fight for racial justice for African Americans. Although he was assassinated in 1968, let us follow his footsteps and forever remember his work with these powerful quotes from him that will always live on: 

On peace and injustice…

  • “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
  • “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
  • “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.”
  • “A right delayed is a right denied.”
  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
  • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  • “Perhaps the worst sin in life is knowing right and not doing it.” 
  • “We must shift the arms race into a ‘peace race’”. 
  • “There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breath.” 

On human nature…

  • “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”
  • “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
  • “Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”
  • “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
  • “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but waver you do you have to keep moving forward.”
  • “You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.”
  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute understanding from people of ill will.” 
  • “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
  • Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right. 
  • “The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.” 

On Time…

  • “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”
  • “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
  • “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” 
  • “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
  • “The time is always right to do what is right.” 

Until this day, we continue to fight for rights in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Until this day, the justice system still isn’t fair enough, and police brutality continues to run rampant. Until this day, the cries of fellow African Americans continue to be ignored amidst the inconsiderate political system. But throughout the difficulty and the challenges, we continue to stand by, demand, and fight for it all. We will always work to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, and one day, it’ll happen.

For more resources on activism and speaking up, visit the Black Lives Matter website and educate yourself on anti-racism

Featured image via Minnesota Historical Society


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