There are few giants in history to match Martin Luther King Jr., and even fewer who had the power to move so many with so few words. The Baptist minister, activist and civil rights hero felt the sting of segregation in his youth, and suffered from depression for much of his life. Nevertheless, he overcame such enormous adversity, excelling academically and rising to become one of history’s most transformative and inspirational figures.
In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his instrumental role in pushing for greater racial equality through nonviolent civil disobedience. Behind his booming voice and poignant appeals for racial healing were his driving values of courage, love, forgiveness, and above all, hope.
Here are the top 20 most inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.
Top 20 Most Inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do what is right.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
We bust build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t walk run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means keep moving.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
Only in the darkness can you see the stars.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
We must use time creatively.
Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
We must substitute courage for caution.