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date: 08 March 2021

Martin Luther King 1929–68
American civil rights leader. See also Anonymous 

  1. I want to be the white man's brother, not his brother-in-law.
    in New York Journal-American 10 September 1962
  2. Judicial decrees may not change the heart; but they can restrain the heartless.
    speech in Nashville, Tennessee, 27 December 1962, in James Melvin Washington (ed.) A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1986) ch. 22
  3. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
    letter from Birmingham Jail, Alabama, 16 April 1963
  4. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
    letter from Birmingham Jail, Alabama, 16 April 1963
  5. The Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
    letter from Birmingham Jail, Alabama, 16 April 1963
  6. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
    letter from Birmingham Jail, Alabama, 16 April 1963
  7. I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.
    speech in Detroit, 23 June 1963
  8. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…
     
    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
    speech at Civil Rights March in Washington, 28 August 1963; see Jackson
  9. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
    speech at St Louis, 22 March 1964, in St Louis Post-Dispatch 23 March 1964
  10. Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
    in 1967; in Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. (1999)
  11. We shall overcome because the arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
    sermon at the National Cathedral, Washington, 31 March 1968, in James Melvin Washington A Testament of Hope (1991); see Obama, Parker
  12. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land…So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man.
    on the day before his assassination
    speech in Memphis, 3 April 1968
  13. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
    Strength to Love (1963) ch. 4
  14. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
    Strength to Love (1963) ch. 5, pt. 2
  15. The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
    Strength to Love (1963) ch. 7
  16. A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.
    Where Do We Go From Here? (1967) ch. 4
  17. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.
    Where Do We Go From Here? (1967)
  18. Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a moulder of consensus.
    Where Do We Go From Here? (1967)
  19. Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
    Marian Wright Edelman ‘Kids First’ in Mother Jones May/June 1991