Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

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Biography:

Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was one of the main leaders of the American civil rights movement, a political activist, a Baptist minister, and was one of America’s greatest orators. King’s most influential and well-known public address is the “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963. In 1964, King became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for his work as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for different races). On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Quotes

The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of revenge. Man has never risen above the injunction of the lextalionis: ‘Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.’ In spite of the fact that the law of revenge solves no social problems, men continue to follow its disastrous leading. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path. Jesus eloquently affirmed from the cross a higher law. He knew that the old eye-for-an-eye philosophy would leave everyone blind. He did not seek to overcome evil with evil. He overcame evil with good.   Although crucified by hate, he responded with aggressive love. What a magnificent lesson! Generations will rise and fall; men will continue to worship the god of revenge and bow before the altar of retaliation; but ever and again this noble lesson of Calvary will be a nagging reminder that only goodness can drive out evil and only love can conquer hate.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers.

-Martin Luther King

To live by the Old Law everyone would be walking around blind and toothless

-Martin Luther King

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

“We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.   (Source: April 4, 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” address at Riverside Church, New York)

“Everywhere and at all times, the love ethic of Jesus is a radiant light revealing the ugliness of our stale conformity.  In spite of this imperative command to live differently, we have cultivated a mass mind and have moved from the extreme of rugged individualism to the even greater extreme of rugged collectivism.  We are not makers of history,; we are made by history.  Longfellow said, ‘in this world a man must either be anvil or hammer,” meaning that he is either a molder of society or is molded by society.  Who doubts that today most men are anvils and are shaped by the patterns of the majority?  Or to change the figure, most people, and Christians in particular, are thermometers that record or register the temperature of majority opinion, not thermostats that transform and regulate the temperature of society.

-Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)

Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from prevailing opinion.  The tendency of most is to adopt a view so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody.  Along with this has grown an inordinate worship of bigness.  We live in an age of ‘jumboism’ where men find security in that which is large and extensive – big cities, big buildings, big corporations.  This worship of size has caused many to fear being identified with a minority idea.  Not a few men, who cherish lofty and noble ideals, hide them under a bushel for fear of being different.”

-Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)

“I believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.”

-Martin Luther King Jr (A Testament of Hope)

“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.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

“Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s your new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it, by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

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