The Words of MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr.

by Harry Brill, 2013-01-21

"I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls."

King's American Dream: "A land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few."

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

"Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerate or ignored economic justice."

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."


"True peace is not merely the absence of tension. It is the presence of justice."

"We need a radical reordering of our national priorities."

"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."

"There comes a time when people get tired of being plunged into the abyss of exploitation and nagging injustice."

"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age."

"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which makes philanthropy necessary."

"Any religion which professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them, is a dry-as-dust- religion."
"Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man."

"We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented society. 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."
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"The time is always right to do the right thing."

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."

"If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream".


"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."

MLK quotes an elderly woman who took part in the year-long boycott of Montgomery's buses. "My feet is tired, but my soul is at rest'."

"Laws only declare rights; they do not deliver them. The oppressed must take hold of laws and transform them into effective mandates."

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

"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issues. It seeks to dramatize the issues so that it can no longer be ignored."

"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."

"Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime."

"The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and
nonexistence"

"The plea for unity is not a call for uniformity. There must always be a healthy debate."

"Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation."

"Life's most persistent and urgent questions is: what are you doing for others."