15 Powerful Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes

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Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to the crowds at Montgomery.  Photo: Stephen Somerstein

Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to the crowds at Montgomery. Photo: Stephen Somerstein

Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist and champion of human rights, justice and equality. His powerful words continue to inspire, teach and shape individuals in the US and around the world.

1. “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

2. “We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.”

3. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

4. “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

5. “Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

6. “Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 28 August 1963 on the Mall in Washington DC (AFP/Getty Images)

Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 28 August 1963 on the Mall in Washington DC (AFP/Getty Images)

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

8. “In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”

9. “We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”

10. “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”

The Martin Luther King, Jr sculpture is seen at the MLK Memorial December 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

The Martin Luther King, Jr sculpture is seen at the MLK Memorial December 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

11. “With patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the levelling process of humility and compassion; until the rough places of injustice are transformed into a smooth plane of equality of opportunity; and until the crooked places of prejudice are transformed by the straightening process of bright-eyed wisdom.”

12. “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.”

13. “The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation.”

14. “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.”

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

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., American Baptist Minister, led the struggle against racial discrimination in 1960s, inspiring supporters with the power of his rhetoric. He advocated the principle of non-violent protest, affirming that opposition should be tackled with compassion rather than aggression. Born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, he was assassinated on 4 April 1968. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to non-violent struggle in 1964.

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