Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr.'s 15 Most Inspiring Motivational Quotes

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King, his wife, Coretta Scott, and their first-born child, Yolanda, shown here at home in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956.
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King at 24

More than 45 years after his death and 50 years after his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr.‘s stirring words and writings remain as relevant and inspiring today as they were when he lived.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day this Monday with some of his most poignant quotes—some you may have heard already and some you probably haven’t—but all of them worth repeating and contemplating on this holiday of remembrance, service, and equality.

  1. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
  2. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  3. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”
  4. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  5. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
  6. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
  7. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
  8. "Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won."
  9. 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."

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Why Is the Quote Getting Removed from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Memorial?

8. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

9. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

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March on Washington 1963

10. “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.”

11. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

12. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

13. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

14. "Let no man pull you so low as to hate him."

15. "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."

16. "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the opressor; it must be demanded by the opressed."

17. "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."

18. "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people."

19. "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

20. "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

21. "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."

22. "The time is always right to do what is right."

23. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."