Quotations by King, Martin Luther


I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
‘Where Do We Go From Here?” Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1967)
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We must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” radio broadcast, CBC (Canada) (24 Dec 1967)
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A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Beyond Vietnam,” speech, Clergy and Laity Concerned, Riverside Church, New York City (4 Apr 1967)
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Reprinted (or the phrase repeated) in Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) and The Trumpet of Conscience (1968). See also this.
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An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Conquering Self-Centeredness,” sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama (11 Aug 1957)
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Now Jesus himself saw the power that competition holds over men. He did not ignore it. Yet he does something with the conception of competition that hadn’t been done before. He takes the conception which has been used for lower purposes and rescues it from many of its dangers, by suggesting a higher method of its use. This is how he applied the term to his disciples. He saw them in danger of using it for low purposes. They wanted to compete for reputation and position — “which of them should be accounted greatest?” Jesus says so, if you must use the power of competition, if you must compete with on another, make it as noble as you can by using it on noble things. Use it for a fine, unselfish thing. “He that is greatest among you shall serve.” Use it for human good. Who shall be the most useful. Compete with one another in humility. See which can be the truest servant. It seems that Christ says, “Use it, but use it for higher and holier purposes. Use it not to surpass one another in esteem, but use it to increase the amount of usefulness and brother-help.” Such conceptions of competition lead to the surprising and ennobling position that there can be competition without hate and jealousy. Behold! You can struggle to beat and yet rejoice to be beaten.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Cooperative Competition / Noble Competition,” sermon outline
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“Which of them shall be accounted greatest?” Let the churches stop trying to outstrip each other in the number of their adherents, the size of its sanctuary, the abundance of wealth. If we must compete let us compete to see which can move toward the greatest attainment of truth, the greatest service of the poor, and the greatest salvation of the soul and bodies of men. If the Church entered this kind of competition we can imagine what a better world this would be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Cooperative Competition / Noble Competition,” sermon outline
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This is no day for the rabble-rouser, whether he be Negro or white. We must realize that we are grappling with the most weighty social problem of this nation, and in grappling with such a complex problem there is no place for misguided emotionalism. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for the goal of freedom, but we must be sure that our hands are clean in the struggle. We must never struggle with falsehood, hate, or malice. We must never become bitter. I know how we feel sometime. There is the danger that those of us who have been forced so long to stand amid the tragic midnight of oppression—those of us who have been trampled over, those of us who have been kicked about — there is the danger that we will become bitter. But if we will become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns, the new order which is emerging will be nothing but a duplication of the old order.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies , bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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We must not seek to use our emerging freedom and our growing power to do the same thing to the white minority that has been done to us for so many centuries. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man. We must not become victimized with a philosophy of black supremacy. God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in freeing the whole human race.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood; 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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I Have a Dream,” speech, Washington, DC (28 Aug 1963)
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From every mountainside, let freedom ring. When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that 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 in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I Have a Dream,” speech, Washington, DC (28 Aug 1963)
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Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up 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! 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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I’ve Been To The Mountaintop,” speech, Memphis (3 Apr 1968)

King's final public speech. He was assassinated the following day.
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Segregation is a cancer in the body politic which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized. The underlying philosophy of segregation is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of democracy and Christianity and all the sophisms of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Keep Moving from This Mountain,” Spelman College (10 Apr 1960)
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King used many of these phrases in other speeches and sermons during this period.
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We must make it clear that in our struggle to end this thing called segregation, we are not struggling for ourselves alone. We are not struggling only to free seventeen million Negroes. The festering sore of segregation debilitates the white man as well as the Negro. We are struggling to save the soul of America.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Keep Moving from This Mountain,” Spelman College (10 Apr 1960)
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In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words “I will forgive you, but I’ll never forget what you have done” never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally for his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, “I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.” Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (25 Dec 1957)
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Not to be confused with a similarly-named sermon preached on 17 November of the same year. This sermon was reprinted in Strength to Love (1963)
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This simply means that 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. When we look beneath the surface, beneath the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God’s image is ineffably etched in being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God’s redemptive love.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (25 Dec 1957)
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To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (25 Dec 1957)
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The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and therefore, brothers.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“On Being a Good Neighbor,” sec. 1, sermon, A Gift of Love (1963)
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Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“On Being a Good Neighbor,” sec. 2, sermon, A Gift of Love (1963)
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Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” Christian Century (13 Apr 1960)
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The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism — that’s the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church, is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service. And there is always a danger that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don’t. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That’s a dangerous type of atheism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong. I don’t think we have to look too far to see that. I’m sure that most of you would agree with me in making that assertion. And when we stop to analyze the cause of our world’s ills, many things come to mind. We begin to wonder if it is due to the fact that we don’t know enough. But it can’t be that. Because in terms of accumulated knowledge we know more today than men have known in any period of human history. We have the facts at our disposal. We know more about mathematics, about science, about social science, and philosophy than we’ve ever known in any period of the world’s history. So it can’t be because we don’t know enough. And then we wonder if it is due to the fact that our scientific genius lags behind. That is, if we have not made enough progress scientifically. Well then, it can’t be that. For our scientific progress over the past years has been amazing. Man through his scientific genius has been able to warp distance and place time in chains, so that today it’s possible to eat breakfast in New York City and supper in London, England. Back in about 1753 it took a letter three days to go from New York City to Washington, and today you can go from here to China in less time than that. It can’t be because man is stagnant in his scientific progress. Man’s scientific genius has been amazing. I think we have to look much deeper than that if we are to find the real cause of man’s problems and the real cause of the world’s ills today. If we are to really find it I think we will have to look in the hearts and souls of men.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” Sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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And the great danger facing us today is not so much the atomic bomb that was created by physical science. Not so much that atomic bomb that you can put in an aeroplane and drop on the heads of hundreds and thousands of people — as dangerous as that is. But the real danger confronting civilization today is that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men, capable of exploding into the vilest of hate and into the most damaging selfishness — that’s the atomic bomb that we’ve got to fear today. Problem is with the men. Within the heart and the souls of men. That is the real basis of our problem.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” Sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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But I’m here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It’s wrong to hate. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong. It’s wrong in America, it’s wrong in Germany, it’s wrong in Russia, it’s wrong in China. It was wrong in 2000 B.C., and it’s wrong in 1954 A.D. It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” Sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I possess a billion dollars. As long as millions of people are inflicted with debilitating diseases and cannot expect to live more than thirty-five years, I can never be totally healthy even if I receive a perfect bill of health from Mayo Clinic. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,” Commencement Speech, Morehouse College, Atlanta (2 Jun 1959)

Full text.
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It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
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It is an unhappy truth that racism is a way of life for the vast majority of white Americans, spoken and unspoken, acknowledged and denied, subtle and sometimes not so subtle — the disease of racism permeates and poisons a whole body politic. And I can see nothing more urgent than for America to work passionately and unrelentingly — to get rid of the disease of racism. Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
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It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
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It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition is not the glaring noisiness of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. It may be that our generation will have repent not only for the diabolical actions and vitriolic words of the children of darkness, but also for the crippling fears and tragic apathy of the children of light.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Christan Way of Life in Human Relations,” speech, General Assembly fo the National Council of Churches, St Louis (4 Dec 1957)
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Often paraphrased: "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." See also here.
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Any church that violates the “whosoever will, let him come” doctrine is a dead, cold church, and nothing but a little social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Drum Major Instinct,” sermon, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta (4 Feb 1968)
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And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important — wonderful. If you want to be recognized — wonderful. If you want to be great — wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Drum Major Instinct,” sermon, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta (4 Feb 1968)
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See Matthew 23:11-12.
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The time is always right to do what’s right.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Future of Integration” Finney Chapel, Oberlin College (22 Oct 1964)

King gave several speeches over the years with this title.
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As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Most Durable Power,” sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (6 Nov 1956)
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I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the word. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Most Durable Power,” sermon, Montgomery, Alabama (6 Nov 1956)
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It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Other America,” speech, Stanford U. (1967)
    (Source)

A motif King used frequently. In the Wall Street Journal (13 Nov 1962), King used the line, "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." In Strength to Love, 3.3 (1963), he wrote, "Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless."
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A riot is the language of the unheard.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Other America,” speech, Stanford U. (1967)
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Added on 26-Jan-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-15
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There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama (24 Jan 1954)
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In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Trumpet of Conscience,” Steeler Lecture (Nov 1967)
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Communism reduces men to a cog in the wheel of the state. The communist may object, saying that in Marxian theory the state is an “interim reality” that will “wither away” when the classless society emerges. True — in theory; but it is also true that, while the state lasts, it is an end in itself. Man is a means to that end. He has no inalienable rights. His only rights are derived from, and conferred by, the state. Under such a system the fountain of freedom runs dry.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” ch. 3 (1967)
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Added on 29-Jun-12 | Last updated 29-Jun-12
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We must honestly admit that capitalism has often left a gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty, has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few, and has encouraged smallhearted men to become cold and conscienceless so that, like Dives before Lazarus, they are unmoved by suffering, poverty-stricken humanity. The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages cutthroat competiotion and selfish ambition that inspire men to be more I-centered than thou-centered.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” ch. 3 (1967)
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Added on 22-Jun-12 | Last updated 21-Jun-12
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A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” ch. 3 (1967)

Full text.
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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. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” ch. 6 (1967)
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Added on 20-Jul-12 | Last updated 20-Jul-12
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White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society. The comfortable, entrenched, the privileged cannot continue to tremble at the prospect of change of the status quo. There is no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not share power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Where Do We Go From Here?” Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1967)
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The poorest people in our country today, on the whole, are working every day. But they are earning wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. … We have thousands and thousands of people working on full-time jobs, with part-time incomes.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Why We Must Go to Washington” (15 Jan 1968)
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In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I Have a Dream,” speech, Washington, DC (28 Aug 1963)
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One who condones evils is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
(Attributed)

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

Added on 27-Jan-10 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free market capitalism for the poor.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
(Attributed)

This phrase is frequently attributed to King, often pointing to some 1964 speech, though the exact phrasing can't be found in his works. He did use variations of the phrase on a number of occasions (e.g., "The Other America", speech at Grosse Pointe High School (14 Mar 1968), but it's also a construction that's been used by others before and after King.
Added on 3-Aug-12 | Last updated 3-Aug-12
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When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
(Misttributed)
    (Source)

Often attributed directly to King, he prefaced it, in Why We Can't Wait (1964), with "Someone once wrote ..."
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The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Pilgrimage to Non-Violence (1960)
Added on 13-Apr-12 | Last updated 13-Apr-12
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There are many signs that the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. Unless the early sacrificial spirit is recaptured, I am very much afraid that today’s Christian church will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and we will see the Christian church dismissed as a social club with no meaning or effectiveness for our time, as a form without substance, as salt without savor. The real tragedy, though, is not Martin Luther King’s disillusionment with the church — for I am sustained by its spiritual blessings as a minister of the gospel with a lifelong commitment. The tragedy is that in my travels, I meet young people of all races whose disenchantment with the church has soured into outright disgust.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 6-Apr-18 | Last updated 6-Apr-18
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It is not a threat but a fact of history that if an oppressed people’s pent-up emotions are not nonviolently released, they will be violently released. So let the Negro march. Let him make pilgrimages to city hall. Let him go on freedom rides. And above all, make an effort to understand why he must do this. For if his frustration and despair are allowed to continue piling up, millions of Negroes will seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies. And this, inevitably, would lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 13-Apr-18 | Last updated 13-Apr-18
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I decided that perhaps I would like to think of myself as an extremist — in the light of the spirit which made Jesus an extremist for love. If it sounds as though I am comparing myself to the Savior, let me remind you that all who honor themselves with the claim of being “Christians” should compare themselves to Jesus. Thus I consider myself an extremist for that brotherhood of man which Paul so nobly expressed: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Love is the only force on earth that can be dispensed or received in an extreme manner, without any qualifications, without any harm to the giver or to the receiver.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 3-Aug-18 | Last updated 3-Aug-18
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The essence of the Epistles of Paul is that Christians should rejoice at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believe. The projection of a social gospel, in my opinion, is the true witness of a Christian life. This is the meaning of the true ekklesia — the inner, spiritual church. The church once changed society. It was then a thermostat of society. But today I feel that too much of the church is merely a thermometer, which measures rather than molds popular opinion.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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My personal disillusionment with the church began when I was thrust into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery. I was confident that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would prove strong allies in our just cause. But some became open adversaries, some cautiously shrank from the issue, and others hid behind silence. My optimism about help from the white church was shattered; and on too many occasions since, my hopes for the white church have been dashed. There are many signs that the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. Unless the early sacrificial spirit is recaptured, I am very much afraid that today’s Christian church will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and we will see the Christian church dismissed as a social club with no meaning or effectiveness for our time, as a form without substance, as salt without savor. The real tragedy, though, is not Martin Luther King’s disillusionment with the church — for I am sustained by its spiritual blessings as a minister of the gospel with a lifelong commitment: The tragedy is that in my travels, I meet young people of all races whose disenchantment with the church has soured into outright disgust.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
    (Source)
Added on 28-Dec-18 | Last updated 28-Dec-18
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A strong man must be militant as well as moderate. He must be a realist as well as an idealist. If I am to merit the trust invested in me by some of my race, I must be both of these things. This is why nonviolence is a powerful as well as a just weapon. If you confront a man who has long been cruelly misusing you, and say, “Punish me, if you will; I do not deserve it, but I will accept it, so that the world will know I am right and you are wrong,” then you wield a powerful and a just weapon. This man, your oppressor, is automatically morally defeated, and if he has any conscience, he is ashamed. Wherever this weapon is used in a manner that stirs a community’s, or a nation’s, anguished conscience, then the pressure of public opinion becomes an ally in your just cause.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 18-Jan-19 | Last updated 18-Jan-19
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The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love (1963)
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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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength To Love (1963)

See also this.
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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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love (1963)
Added on 25-Oct-13 | Last updated 25-Oct-13
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Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, 1.1 (1963)
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The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, 2.3 (1963)
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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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, 7.3 (1963)
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In a sense, every day is judgment day, and we, through our deeds and words, our silence and speech, are constantly writing in the Book of Life.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, 9.2 (1963)
Added on 31-Aug-09 | Last updated 31-Aug-09
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Man is neither villain nor hero; he is rather both villain and hero.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, ch. 11 (conclusion) (1963)
Added on 28-Nov-11 | Last updated 28-Nov-11
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Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, ch. 2 (introduction) (1963)
Added on 19-Mar-09 | Last updated 19-Mar-09
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Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, ch. 4 (1963)
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We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. Only in this way shall we live without the fatigue of bitterness and the drain of resentment.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, ch. 9 “Shattered Dreams” (1963)
Added on 21-Mar-11 | Last updated 21-Mar-11
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[A majority of people] are not theoretical atheists; they are practical atheists. They do not deny the existence of God with their lips, but they are continually denying his existence with their lives.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, ch. 9 (1963)
Added on 11-Dec-08 | Last updated 11-Dec-08
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Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul-saving music of eternity?

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, II (1963)
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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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958)
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True peace is not merely the absence of tension; It is the presence of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom (1958)
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Certainly, otherworldly concerns have a deep and significant place in all religions worthy of the name. Any religion that is completely earthbound sells its birthright for a mess of naturalistic pottage. Religion at its best, deals not only with man’s preliminary concerns but with his inescapable ultimate concern. When religion overlooks this basic fact it is reduced to a mere ethical system in which eternity is absorbed into time and God is relegated to a sort of meaningless figment of the human imagination.

But a religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions. Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity. Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal. It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom (1958)
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Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion. Such a religion is the kind the Marxists like to see — an opiate of the people.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom (1958)
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Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom, “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression” (1958)
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To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber. Religion reminds every man that he is his brother’s keeper. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right. It is a way of allowing his conscience to fall asleep. At this moment the oppressed fails to be his brother’s keeper. So acquiescence — while often the easier way — is not the moral way. It is the way of the coward.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 11 “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression” (1958)
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Every crisis has both its dangers and its opportunities. Each can spell either salvation or doom.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 11 (1958)
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True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 2 (1958)
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Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
The Measures of Man (1959)
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Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
The Trumpet of Conscience (1967)
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Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
The Trumpet of Conscience (1967)
Added on 4-May-12 | Last updated 4-May-12
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Alienation is a form of living death. It is the acid of despair that dissolves society.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
The Trumpet of Conscience (1967)
Added on 21-Feb-13 | Last updated 21-Feb-13
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Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness — justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967)
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The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)
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Truth is found neither in traditional capitalism nor in classical communism. Each represents a partial truth. Capitalism fails to see the truth in collectivism. Communism fails to see the truth in individualism. Capitalism fails to realize that life is social. Communism fails to realize that life is personal.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? ch. 3 (1967)
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Added on 8-Jun-12 | Last updated 15-Jun-12
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We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? ch. 3 (1967)
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Added on 15-Jun-12 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, “Where We Are Going” (1967)
Added on 6-Jul-12 | Last updated 29-Jun-12
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What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 2.2 (1967)
Added on 7-May-12 | Last updated 7-May-12
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To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here?, 3.2 (1967)
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If our nation had done nothing more in its whole history than to create just two documents, its contribution to civilization would be imperishable. The first of these documents is the Declaration of Independence and the other is that which we are here to honor tonight, the Emancipation Proclamation. All tyrants, past, present and future, are powerless to bury the truths in these declarations, no matter how extensive their legions, how vast their power and how malignant their evil.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Emancipation Proclamation Centennial Address, New York City (12 Sep 1962)
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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that 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 law.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 28-Jan-08 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 27-Apr-09 | Last updated 31-Jul-15
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I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 12-Jun-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 19-Jun-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 5-Nov-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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See Gladstone.
Added on 24-Feb-12 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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