photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Wikipedia Summary for Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr.; January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an African American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King advanced civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. He was the son of early civil rights activist Martin Luther King Sr.

King participated in and led marches for blacks' right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other basic civil rights. King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As president of the SCLC, he led the unsuccessful Albany Movement in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize some of the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The SCLC put into practice the tactics of nonviolent protest with some success by strategically choosing the methods and places in which protests were carried out. There were several dramatic stand-offs with segregationist authorities, who sometimes turned violent. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover considered King a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963, forward. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital affairs and reported on them to government officials, and, in 1964, mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People's Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in cities and states throughout the United States beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and the most populous county in Washington State was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.

photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate.

--Martin Luther King Jr.

Longer Version:

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.


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Your life begins to end the moment you start being silent about the things that matter.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
person sleeping on gray gang chair

We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the existence of justice for all people.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

I firmly believe that the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolent resistance is the only logical and moral approach to the solution of the race problem in the United States.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
two women making peace sign near the Golden Gate bridge

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

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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We stand in life at midnight; we are always at the threshold of a new dawn.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Darkness cannot be overcome with more darkness, only with light. Violence cannot be overcome with more violence, only with peace.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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The problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

--Martin Luther King Jr.


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In the struggle for human rights and justice, Negros will make a mistake if they become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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When people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

--Martin Luther King Jr.

photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Our children need our presence, not our presents.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying.

--Martin Luther King Jr.

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The best way to solve any problem is to remove its cause.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Without justice, there can be no peace.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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A lie cannot live.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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I was not afraid of the words of the violent, but of the silence of the honest.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

A productive and happy life is not something you find; it is something you make.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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The question is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. Because of our involvement in humanity we must be concerned about every human being.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

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

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Only in the darkness can you see the stars.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
woman looking up to the sky while standing on white sand

It's not burn baby burn, but learn, baby, learn, so that you can earn, baby, earn.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. 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.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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You don't need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

--Martin Luther King Jr.

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Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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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.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
person on road at sunset

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
white and red flower with green leaves

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

A riot is the language of the unheard.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Seeing is not always believing.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

A right delayed is a right denied.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
woman standing on beachfront

The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
photo of author Martin Luther King Jr.  with quote

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
green artificial palm tree on seashore

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

--Martin Luther King Jr.

Longer Version:

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the creative light of altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgement.


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A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

--Martin Luther King Jr.
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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.

--Martin Luther King Jr.

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