Wikimedia Commons / Library of Congress

MLK Quotes

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. possessed a rare gift for eloquence that led to some of the greatest speeches and most profound observations of our time. Decades after King delivered them, we're still influenced by the words he used to build a movement toward freedom. Here are some of our favorite MLK quotes. Which one inspires you most? Tell us in the comment section below.

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

"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. "

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

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

"If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control."

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

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal."

"Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness."

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

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent 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."

"That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing."

"The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one."

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'"

"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

"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."
"We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear."

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."

"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."

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

“I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.”

“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers."