20 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes To Inspire the Leader In You

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the greatest leaders in world history. Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950s-60s to achieve legal equality and economic justice for African Americans in the United States.  Legislation for a Holiday honoring Dr. King was first introduced four days after Dr. King’s assassination, then signed into law in 1983.

As we observe Dr. King’s birthday and National Holiday, we honor his legacy with 20 of his quotes  on racism, leadership, social change, and nonviolence:

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

  • “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”
  • “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.” 
  • “Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life…It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably, it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.
  • “Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

black and white image of dr king with quote we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now

“Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’” 

  • “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense [rather] than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” 
  • “It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission.” 
  • “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.”
  • “So even though we face difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

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

    • “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.”
    • “Is organized religion too inextricably bound to status-quo to save our nation and the world?”

    • “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”
    • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

      “No, violence is not the way. Hate is not the way. Bitterness is not the way. We must stand up with love in our hearts, with a lack of bitterness and yet a determination to protest courageously for justice and freedom in this land.”West Angeles LOGO

Imagery and quotes – Our thanks to The King Center https://thekingcenter.org/