100 Best Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes Of All Time

MLK Quotes March on Washington 'I have a dream' speech
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the powerfully inspiring civil rights activist of the early 1960s, played a formative role in the way we accept and treat each other, regardless of race or gender, today.

Now on August 28, 2020 — 57 years after the March on Washington — the Martin Luther King Jr. quotes listed below empower us more than ever before to join together in peaceful protest to change the world in a positive way.

Dr. King is widely known as an American activist who consistently and effectively advocated for peace, love, and equality among all people. He was a man of high faith and morale, which set him apart from the many other activists of this time.

Often compared to the likes of Mahatma Ghandi, the driving force to much of his life and speeches was always peace. His method of love and acceptance for all human beings is what led him to be one of the most renounced public figures in all of American history.

Beginning his life of activism nearly 61 years ago, Dr. King quickly became the face and leader of the civil rights movement. He played a role in organizing the March on Washington in 1963 and is the creator of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which drew a crowd of nearly 250,000 people.

Through his speeches and his tireless service to the world, it was clear that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held power in his tongue and passion in his heart.

While the Spring of 2020 marked 52 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his legacy and impact on a nation has remained timeless. His persistence on the bettering of ourselves in order to effectively love one another is the reason that his message cannot die; because it is instilled in the hearts of many.

To honor his legacy, each year, Dr. King is celebrated throughout the country. Now, with peaceful Black Lives Matter protests turning violent in cities around the nation in response to police brutality toward people of color, racially motivated violence against Black people, the murder of George Floyd — an unarmed Black man in police custody, the police gravely injuring a man named Jacob Blake by shooting him seven times in the back, and many, many other similar stories — Martin Luther King Jr's quotes and good deeds are needed more than ever before to motivate and encourage us to insight real change.

And today, with the most recent March on Washington happening on Friday, August 28, 2020, we look to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech to motivate us to continue to fight for radical change. 

Take a look below at the best MLK quotes that supported his powerful and honorable way of life, and share his words of encouragement with your friends and family who need his support the most.

1. MLK believed everyone deserved justice.

It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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2. Don't lose sight of the dream.

Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. — Martin Luther King Jr.

3. He knew that hate is a trick we should never fall for.

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him. — Martin Luther King Jr.

4. Don't stay down. Pick yourself back up and fight for what you believe in.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. — Martin Luther King Jr.

5. He taught that ignorance is never bliss.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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6. Our nation was meant to be equal.

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." — Martin Luther King Jr.

7. Love is always the answer.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Martin Luther King Jr.

8. Police brutality must be stopped and the system must be fixed.

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. — Martin Luther King Jr.

9. We need to have more faith.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. — Martin Luther King Jr.

10. We can't do this alone. We need to rely on each other and band together.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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11. Give it your all.

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.

12. Live like you're going to die tomorrow.

No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for. — Martin Luther King Jr.

13. He believed in doing the right thing.

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right. — Martin Luther King Jr.

14. Use your time on this earth wisely.

We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. — Martin Luther King Jr.

15. Justice should be the strongest force.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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16. Make yourself heard.

Lightning makes no sound until it strikes. — Martin Luther King Jr.

17. And speaking up for the people you love.​

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. — Martin Luther King Jr.

18. Fight for what you love with everything you've got.

A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live. — Martin Luther King Jr.

19. Hate is ineffective.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness tonight 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.

20. Overcome the fears that are holding you back.

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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21. Protect your soul, do what is right.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right. Especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the ones we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. — Martin Luther King Jr.

22. Where can you find true happiness?

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. And staying away from the immoral.

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal. — Martin Luther King Jr.

24. Never lose hope.

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope. — Martin Luther King Jr.

25. Speak up for what you believe in.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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26. If you can't learn to forgive, your heart will never be able to love.

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.

27. And never let hate in.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit you not only refused to shoot a man but you refused to hate him. — Martin Luther King Jr.

28. The problem goes deeper than we'd like to admit.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see. — Martin Luther King Jr.

29. Courage is greater than fear.

Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear. — Martin Luther King Jr.

30. Chase your dreams without hesitation.

No person has the right to rain on your dreams. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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31. And finding it within yourself to love fully.

Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you. — Martin Luther King Jr.

32. Fight for peace.

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.

33. There is power in the underestimated.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. — Martin Luther King Jr.

34. Love is all-powerful.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. — Martin Luther King Jr.

35. Living a purposeful life.

There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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36. Peace is the only way to win.

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.

37. Keeping others in mind.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. — Martin Luther King Jr.

38. You must learn to forgive before you can move forward.

He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. — Martin Luther King Jr.

39. And doing the right thing.

One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. — Martin Luther King Jr.

40. A leader isn't appointed to force their own will on their followers.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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41. Have a little extra faith.

Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself. — Martin Luther King Jr.

42. On rioting.

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. — Martin Luther King Jr.

43. With love, anything is possible.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. — Martin Luther King Jr.

44. Always fight for what's right.

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right. — Martin Luther King Jr.

45. We are all equal.

We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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46. The truth will live on.

A lie cannot live. — Martin Luther King Jr.

47. It's important to learn from our past mistakes.

We are not makers of history. We are made by history. — Martin Luther King Jr.

48. The fight for freedom will last until it happens.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. — Martin Luther King Jr.

49. Stand up and let your voice be heard.

A riot is the language of the unheard. — Martin Luther King Jr.

50. Stand up for what's right and fair.

Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. — Martin Luther King Jr.

51. We are better.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. — Martin Luther King Jr.

52. Who we are and what we do matters.

Every man lives in two realms: the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live. — Martin Luther King Jr.

53. Banding together is the only way we can find peace.

We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools. — Martin Luther King Jr.

54. Words and understanding can make all the difference.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. — Martin Luther King Jr.

55. Hope is what binds us together as a people.

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. — Martin Luther King Jr.

56. Make the most of your time.

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important. — Martin Luther King Jr.

57. We must move forward — together.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. — Martin Luther King Jr.

58. Focus on peace.

We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace. — Martin Luther King Jr.

59. If you’re uncomfortable, that means it’s working.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King Jr.

60. The past tells us everything we need to know about what the future holds.

The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. — Martin Luther King Jr.

61. More power to you, and less to them.

Your ignorance is their power. — Martin Luther King Jr.

62. Truth will win.

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.

63. He believed in fighting with intent.

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong you cannot be too conservative. — Martin Luther King Jr.

64. You will always be yourself at the core of everything, no matter what you say or do.

You will change your mind; You will change your looks; You will change your smile, laugh, and ways but no matter what you change, you will always be you. — Martin Luther King Jr.

65. Love is the stepping stone.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression in retaliation. The foundation of such a method is Love. — Martin Luther King Jr.

66. Make the most of your time here.

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.

67. He believed that retaining peace is a process.

Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war. — Martin Luther King Jr.

68. If you're mad or sad, it's because you care deeply.

There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. — Martin Luther King Jr.

69. And laws are important.

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but I can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. — Martin Luther King Jr.

70. Make your side known and stand your ground.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King Jr.

71. He believed in starting out small.

If I cannot do great things I can do small things in a great way. — Martin Luther King Jr.

72. Always do what's right and feel confident in your decision to do so.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. — Martin Luther King Jr.

73. There is great responsibility that comes with power.

To be great, you have to be willing to be mocked, hated, and misunderstood. Stay strong. — Martin Luther King Jr.

74. Peace is love.

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.

75. Love is easier than hate.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. — Martin Luther King Jr.

76. Seeking revenge will never win you the war.

Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness. — Martin Luther King Jr.

77. And having a dream.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. — Martin Luther King Jr.

78. Forgiving someone isn't a one-time thing.

Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude. — Martin Luther King Jr.

79. Every moment is important.

The time is always right to do what is right. — Martin Luther King Jr.

80. We will never be satisfied until things are made right.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. — Martin Luther King Jr.

81. He believed in not losing sight of who you are.

The richer we have become materially, the poor we become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. — Martin Luther King Jr.

82. Have faith in your country and your community.

With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. — Martin Luther King Jr.

83. Being the change you wanted to see.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the pressure; it must be demanded by the oppressed. — Martin Luther King Jr.

84. It's all about power and control.

Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. — Martin Luther King Jr.

85. And that our knowledge is power.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. — Martin Luther King Jr.

86. Be human and remember what you're fighting for.

Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man. — Martin Luther King Jr.

87. What matters most is what’s on the inside.

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. — Martin Luther King Jr.

88. Do you take time to think about things that matter?

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. — Martin Luther King Jr.

89. Trust in the process of things.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. — Martin Luther King Jr.

90. See beyond yourself.

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. — Martin Luther King Jr.

91. And that we should be the best at anything we decide to do.

If a man is cold to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, he lived a great Street sweeper who did his job well. — Martin Luther King Jr.

92. You don't have to be educated or rich to serve your community. You just have to be there.

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.

93. And that we should always speak up for what we believe in.

There comes a time when silence is betrayal. — Martin Luther King Jr.

94. Do what you love with passion.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. — Martin Luther King Jr.

95. He believed in service.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others? — Martin Luther King Jr.

96. We cannot wait for things to fix themselves. Change needs to happen now.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. — Martin Luther King Jr.

97. He believed in living a purposeful life.

Live like Jesus died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow. — Martin Luther King Jr.

98. Peace is the only thing that will change our nation for the better.

We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. — Martin Luther King Jr.

99. Peace is the only way.

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but as a means by which we arrive at that goal. — Martin Luther King Jr.

100. Equality for all.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. — Martin Luther King Jr.

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Lani Akingbade is a writer who focuses on social justice and pop-culture topics.

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