Martin Luther King, Jr., was a pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement whose words acted as motivation and fire starters for change. This article takes a look at a few of his powerful quotes.

Response to Montgomery Bus Boycott’s “Disturbing the Peace” Accusation


“True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”

Martin Luther King’s response in 1955 to an accusation that he was “disturbing the peace” by his activism during the the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

You can learn more about the Montgomery Bus Boycott here.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail


“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

This was the closing line of The Letter from Birmingham Jail, which Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote while behind bars in a Birmingham city jail. It was written on April 16, 1963 as an open letter defending the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism and argues that people have a oral responsibility to break unjust laws.

You can read the entire letter here.

I Have a Dream Speech


“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

 

“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”‘

These are both quotes from the powerful ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from Martin Luther King’s Address at March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

You watch the speech here.

Address at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church


“The reason I can’t follow the old eye-for-an-eye philosophy is that it ends up leaving everyone blind.”

Words from Martin Luther King’s Address at Sixteen Street Baptist Church in 1963. The address was in response to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

You can learn more about the Bombing of the Sixteen Street Baptist Church here.

“Dreams of Brighter Tomorrows,” Ebony Magazine


“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.

Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.”

From a piece Martin Luther King wrote for Ebony Magazine’s March 1965 issue, in which he outlines his plans for the future after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

You can view the article, as well as the entire Ebony issue, here.

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