BooksCorrespondenceCreative WritingNewspapers & MagazinesPoetryQuotationsWriting

Thoughts of King Inspire: Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes

Updated on February 23, 2017
CatherineGiordano profile image

Catherine Giordano is a public speaker and writer known for her inspirational essays and articles.

Turn your thoughts to the thoughts of martin Luther King, Jr.
Turn your thoughts to the thoughts of martin Luther King, Jr. | Source

Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Great Leader

Martin Luther King, Jr. is remembered as a courageous civil rights leader who used the tactics of non-violence to raise the consciousness of a nation and change the course of history. He is also remembered for his eloquence as a writer and speaker..

He began his career as a minister and then became a leader in the movement for civil rights. But more than that, he became a leader who fought for justice for all people. His greatness lies not just in his accomplishments, but in his moral teachings.

He was a philosopher who had a deep understanding of human nature. It was that understanding, coupled with his eloquence and great personal courage that made him successful in transforming American society.

Key Dates in the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Date
Event
1929
Born of January 15 to Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King
1953
Marries Correta Scott
1955
PhD in Theology, Boston College
1955
Led Montgomery bus boycott after the Rosa Parks incident/Buses desegrgated
1959
Goes to India/Meets family of Gandhi
1963
March on Washington and "I Have a Dream Speech"
1964
Recieves Nobel Peace Prize
1966
March Agains Fear (Begins to expand his issues.)
1968
Assassinated in Memphis TN
1986
President Reagan signs bill for Martin Luther King Day
Some key dates in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)

The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The biographer weaves together an "autobiography" from King's unpublished and published writings, his speeches, and his interviews. He masterfully blends this together with his own research to create an engrossing and inspirational book. This book is not a dry recitation of facts--I read it as though it was a novel. If you only know Dr. King through news reports and history books, this is the book to read to know him as a friend.

 

On Non-Violence

Martin Luther King, Jr. studied Mahatma Gandhi and his success using non-violence as a tactic for gaining Independence for India from Britain. King realized that these tactics could also work to help gain civil rights for black people in the United States. His belief was that it was the only tactic that could work.

He knew that if he was to change laws and practices, he had to change minds and hearts. He had to call attention to the injustices and raise the consciousness of the American people. Violence would only beget more violence. A violent insurrection would be quickly snuffed out; many people would die; attitudes would harden.

"Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it."

"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."

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."

"If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation."

On Love and Hate

Non-violence was more than a political tactic. Martin Luther King made love a cornerstone of his political activities because the power of love was part of his moral beliefs. “Love thy enemy” was not just a biblical imperative; it was a way of life. Love enhances and opens up the heart; hate destroys and kills the soul.

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

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

"I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear."

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend."

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

A Thought from MLK on Love and Hate

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in the power of love to overcome hate.
Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in the power of love to overcome hate. | Source

On Speaking Out

Martin Luther King believed that it was important to speak our against injustice and immorality. To see an injustice and not speak out is as much a sin as to commit the injustice. Justice must be called out; a bright light must be shined on it. Often injustice is not recognized as injustice until it is shown to be so.

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

"You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say."

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

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

On Courage and Character

Speaking out, and taking action, against injustice often requires much courage. Martin Luther King realized that courage was not easy, but he considered it necessary if one wished to claim to be of good character. He didn’t mince words about it

"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."

"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 constantly build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear."

If a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

A Thought from MLK on Courage

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that we  must have the courage to fight for justice.
Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that we must have the courage to fight for justice. | Source

On Justice

Martin Luther King often had to reconcile breaking a law through civil disobedience with morality. Is not breaking the law an act of immorality? Martin Luther King believed that the use of moral means (laws) to achieve unjust ends (discrimination) did not make the ends moral.

(Martin Luther King was right, but I can see others misusing his argument. Who gets to decide what is an unjust law? Some people in the United States think that laws about paying taxes are unjust. Perhaps history is the judge. If you prevail, then you are right.)

Martin Luther King wanted to change hearts and minds, but his most important objective was to change unjust laws.

"One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

"Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless."

"[I will fight] until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."

On Race Relations

Martin Luther King's fight was primarily for the civil rights of black people in the United States. He advocated brotherhood among all people and an end to discrimination based on the color of one’s skin.

"We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers."

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

"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."

A Thought from MLK on Brotherhood

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that we needed to learn to live together.
Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that we needed to learn to live together. | Source

On Social Justice for All

Martin Luther King eventually began to expand his message. Social justice was not just about the oppression of blacks, but about the oppression of the poor. He began to fight for workers' rights and for an end to the Vietnam war.

"We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free market capitalism for the poor."

"We all came in on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now."

"One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society... shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam."

"God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war."

On Religion

Martin Luther King lived his religion. He used religion to shape his life and his mission. He didn’t preach be good, be quiet, and wait for heaven. He preached that religion required morality, and morality required taking action for social justice.

"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."

"The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself. It, too, is based on a lack of faith. We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition."

MLK’s Work is Not Yet Finished.

We have lost Martin Luther King, but his words live on. They inspire us to seek social justice. There will always be another fight to be fought.

"I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable."

Martin Luther King believed that justice comes in slow increments, always moving towards greater justice.

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice."

In the meantime, nothing sums up the legacy of Martin Luther King better than this quote:

"Be the peace you wish to see in the world!"

See the movie "Selma" to better understand the life and times of MLK, Jr..

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What a great hub for this day. What a great man he was. You really did a marvelous job or writing this up.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Have you seen the movie yet? Very powerful and well-done. I doubt we have seen a better public speaker during our lifetime....he was so charismatic and it is a great loss to this nation.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Ericdieker: This year as I spent most of my day writing this hub, I felt like I was actually celebrating Martin Luther King Day. I had planned to write it a week ago, but I couldn't get to it. Then I saw Selma on Saturday, and I was glad I hadn't done it yet. The movie was a big influence.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      billybuc: I saw the movie on Saturday. It was a big influence on me as I wrote the hub today. It was a great movie.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Love did win the day, didn't it? You had hate-mongerers on both sides in those days and in spite of their terrorist tactics and assasinations they did not win, it was this visionary Prophet of Peace that brought freedom to everyone, because now white people can fellowship with black people as brothers, something we were restricted from doing in those dark and ignorant times preceding MLK. Great hub!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Amen, Mel, Amen. MLK with a message of love won the day. Thanks for your rousing comment.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very marvellous work, Catherine. It's a great tribute also. Done a great job by bringing forth this great message of him among our people. He has been a great leader and done great service to humanity just like Gandhi.

      Thanks for sharing it. Voted up, awesome and sharing.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing the memories of a great man who lived his religion. Great presentation and I appreciate the poetry link. All we have here is talk about the movie. I'm anxious to see it.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Venkatachari M:. Thanks for commenting, voting up and sharing. King studied Gandhi to learn his of non-violence and then he applied it to the United States. Seeing the movie "Selma" and researching this piece gave me a lot of insight into King's greatness.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I especially enjoyed the science and religion quotes. Great hub!

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      It is astounding that humanity has men (and women) like Dr. King and also those that are depraved and callous. It is difficult to reconcile. But your piece gave me goosebumps and hope. I too believe that nonviolence is more powerful that violence. Of course nonviolence does not mean silence or weakness; it means conviction and action. This was very inspirational and I am looking forward to seeing the movie. Voted up, sharing, etc. This is awesome.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      FlourishAnyway: Thanks for reading and commenting. I too like the science and religion quotes from Dr. King. It shows a different side of him.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      FlourishAnyway: Thanks for reading and commenting. I too like the science and religion quotes from Dr. King. It shows a different side of him.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Iris Draak. Thank you so much for voting up and sharing. I'm going to quote you, because what you said is just like something King might have said. "Nonviolence does not mean silence and weakness; it means conviction and action." Go see the movie "Selma"; you will be glad you did.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is a wonderful tribute to MLK and such inspiring quotes.

      I have read many books about him. Good to enlighten the younger generation about this charismatic leader and his thoughts.

      Very well written and well presented hub! Voted up!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you ChitrangaqdaSharan: I'm glad that you enjoyed reading these quotes. I was glad to have the opportunity to present MLK's views on a variety of subjects to present a complete picture of his beliefs. In the US, February is Black History Month. I hope that will bring more readers to this piece.

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Sorry I missed this for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is a memorable collection and I enjoyed your commentary. Voted up!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks. Writer Fox. February is Black History Month so a hub about MLK is still relevant.

    • profile image

      Rayne123 2 years ago

      Martin Luther King was such a great man. He was always trying to make a difference in someones life. He said great words that were so inspirational.

      He wanted to change the world and has he says, we either come together in love or we come together in war.

      It takes much more wasted energy to hate and not smile than it does to love.

      Those that try to take another down, (and we see it all over the world, including authority figures) are usually lacking in love. Since we do not know their story, we may be safe to say that these people may have something missing or had something missing in their own lives.

      Here we are 2015 and still trying to change the world. It seems that these words are spoken then forgotten but its sad that it happens, as it does take all of us to change the world.

      Thank you for posting.

      Laurie

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Rayne123: I did not realize how much I did not know about Dr. King until I started colleting these quotes and trying to explain his philosophy for this piece. I'm so glad you liked it. MLK spoke about love a lot and I think he "practiced what he preached."

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      You have entwined your writing masterfully with the quotes of MLK. If only his thoughts could truly live on, truly influencing the movements and life of ALL men!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and beautiful.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you so much tilsontitian for your votes and kind words. We keep the memory and the philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. alive by sharing his story and his words. When I started researching this hub, I discovered there was so much I did not know about this man.

    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 2 years ago

      I enjoyed this article. Several of the quotes I was familiar with, but many were new to me. Thank you for investing the time and effort to create this article. Well done.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Julie. I enjoyed researching Martin Luther King. A lot of what I learned was new to me as well.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 7 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      This is one of the best articles I have read.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 7 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Jay C. O'Brien: I'm glad you liked my essay about Martin Luther King.

    • profile image

      John Baptist Awuviri Tibiru. 3 months ago

      I am so much humbled by these compilations and the Website.

      Dr. King was indeed a great man, who also visited the Gold Coast in 1957, to witness Ghana's Independence in 1957.

      It was indeed a very colorful event for not only Ghanaians, but Diaspora Africans. Ghanaians were so highly honored to see and catch a glimsp at one of their African idols, Dr. King in the soils of Africa!

      I was then 2 years old but could understand what was happening. So many tears were shared that day, which strengthened the unity of people of Ghana; with their new Democratically Elected President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 3 months ago from Orlando Florida

      John: I can see that it meant a lot to you to have DR. King visit Ghana on the occasion of its independence. In America, we tend to think of King as an American hero, but you have shown me that he was a hero to people all over the world. Thank you for your comment.

    Click to Rate This Article