Home • Manifesto • Essays • Solutions • Activism • Free eBooks • Quotations

Working Minds Philosophy of Empowerment homepage

Quotations from
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering the 'I Have A Dream' speech in Washington, DC on 28 August 1963      Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the central figure of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s in America. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. He was assassinated by a lone gunman on 4 April 1968 on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee as he prepared to attend a rally in support of striking sanitation workers.

Links are provided below for further investigation.
The references to WMail issues indicate quotes that appeared in the free monthly 'WMail' ezine
connected with the revolutionary "Working Minds Philosophy of Empowerment" created by G.E. Nordell.

After WMail Issue #72 in October 2007, essays & quotations & news are being posted to the Dateline Chamesa blog

Martin Luther King, Jr. entry at Wikipedia

"Letter From Birmingham Jail" mimeograph document, 16 April 1963
text • Wikipedia •

the 'I Have A Dream' speech in Washington, DC on 28 August 1963
transcript • video excerpt [5:10] • full video [17:28] • audio excerpt [6:25] • Wikipedia

portion of the 'How long? Not long!' speech in Montgomery, Alabama on 25 March 1965
video excerpt [2:00] free at YouTube

chronology of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life {MLK Institute at Stanford}

Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King book edited by James M. Washington  
"A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and
Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr." [1990]
Edited by James M. Washington

HarperOne pb [12/90] for $16.31

“Until all are free, none are free.”  {Issues #19 & #44}
•      •
“Our lives begin to end the day [that] we become silent about things that matter.”  {Issue #37}
•      •
“Power is the ability to achieve purpose. Power is the ability to effect change.”  {Issue #56}
•      •
“We live together as rational human beings or die together as fools.”  {Issue #65}
•      •
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”  {blog 10/2007}
•      •
“I'd rather be dead than afraid.” on 4 April 1968 (the day of his assassination)  {blog 4/2008}
•      •
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  {blog 5/2008 & 11/2010}
•      •
“Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change
the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”  {blog 9/2008}
“It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless.”  {blog 1/2012}
•      •
“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?'.
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic,
nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right.”  {blog 8/2009}
•      •
“What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can't afford to buy a hamburger?”  {blog 4/2010}
•      •
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  {blog 10/2010}
•      •
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”  {blog 1/2011}
•      •
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”  {blog 12/2011}
•      •
“Equality with whites will not solve the problems of either whites or Negroes if it means equality
in a world society stricken by poverty and in a universe doomed to extinction by war.”
from "Where Do We Go From Here", 1968  {blog 12/2011}
•      •
“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned
the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.”  {blog 2/2012}
•      •
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.”  {blog 2/2012}
•      •
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”  {blog 10/2012}
•      •
“All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”  {blog 11/2012}

“Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.”  {blog 11/2012}
•      •
“Our lives begin to end the day [that] we become silent about things that matter.”  {blog 12/2012}
•      •
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in a moment of comfort and convenience but where he stands
at times of challenge and controversy.”  {blog 1/2013 & blog 2/2016}
•      •
“These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line
if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits
his convictions, but we must all protest.”  {blog 8/2013}
•      •
“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me,
and I think that's pretty important.”  {blog 9/2013}
•      •
“Like a boil that must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed
to the light of human conscience before it can be cured.”  {blog 9/2013}

<•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•>

Selected Quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr. [1929-68]
[published on the blog, January 2014]
•      •
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
•      •
"The time is always ripe to do right."
•      •
"All life is inter-related. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds." — in "Letter From Birmingham Jail", 16 April 1963
•      •
"Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light
and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals."
— in "Letter From Birmingham Jail", 16 April 1963
•      •
"An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding
on itself. This is difference made legal." — in "Letter From Birmingham Jail", 16 April 1963
•      •
"A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth."
— in "Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence" speech, April 1967
•      •
"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice
which produces beggars needs restructuring." — in "Where Do We Go From Here?" speech, August 1967
•      •
"We must develop a federal program of public works, retraining, and jobs for all – so that none, white or black, will have cause to feel threatened
. . . There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum and livable income for every American family."
— in "Where Do We Go From Here?" speech, August 1967
•      •
"The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that
encourages men to be I-centered rather than thou-centered." — in "Where Do We Go From Here?" speech, August 1967
•      •
"Congress appropriates military funds with alacrity and generosity. It appropriates poverty funds with miserliness and
grudging reluctance. The government is emotionally committed to the war. It is emotionally hostile to the needs of the poor."
— 'Domestic Impact of The War In America' speech November 1967
•      •
"I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of my organization or by taking a Gallup poll of the majority
opinion. Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
— 'Domestic Impact of The War In America' speech November 1967
•      •
"When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights are considered more important than people,
the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."
— in posthumously published essay "A Testament of Hope"
•      •
"There is also the violence of [Afro-Americans] having to live in a community and pay higher consumer prices
for goods or higher rents for equivalent housing than are charged in white parts of the city."
— in posthumously published essay "A Testament of Hope"

<•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•> <•>

“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  {blog 3/2014}
•      •
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of
social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”  {blog 11/2014}
•      •
“If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do,
you have to keep moving forward.”  {blog 3/2015}
•      •
“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation, and for those it calls enemy.”
— in "Beyond Vietnam" [1967 speech]  {blog 7/2015}
•      •
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”  {blog 11/2015}
•      •
“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances
of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”  {blog 3/2017}

Martin Luther King Quotations Not Yet Used on the Blog

the backlog quotes were published on the blog in January 2014 for the Martin Luther King holiday

top of this page

Albert Einstein Quotations Page
Abraham Lincoln Quotations Page
Ayn Rand Quotations Page
Benjamin Franklin Quotations Page
Bertrand Russell Quotations Page
Edward Abbey Quotations Page
Edward R. Murrow Quotations Page
Eric Hoffer Quotations Page
Ernest Hemingway Quotations Page
Friedrich Nietzsche Quotations Page
G.E. Nordell Quotations Page
George Bernard Shaw Quotations Page
H.L. Mencken Quotations Page
Henry David Thoreau Quotations Page
John Steinbeck Quotations Page
Mahatma Gandhi Quotations Page
Mark Twain Quotations Page
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotations Page  «« you are here
Oscar Wilde Quotations Page
Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotations Page
Theodore Roosevelt Quotations Page
Thomas Jefferson Quotations Page
Winston Churchill Quotations Page
Wm. Faulkner Quotations Page

Magic Lantern Video & Book Store's Great Movie Quotes Page

Books of Quotations Page at Working Minds

back to WMail Quotations Pages   ••   back to Working Minds Philosophy homepage