Top 10 Martin Luther King Jr Quotes

American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) addresses a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, 27th May 1966.
Jeff Kamen / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Fifty-five years since Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring “I Have a Dream” speech, his words and writings remain as relevant and inspiring today as they were when he spoke them to a nation ready for a change.

Parade Magazine reported that King’s lasting legacy remains in his words, with quotes that bear repeating and remembering on this holiday of remembrance, service, and equality.

1. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

2. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

3. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

4. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

5. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

6. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

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

8. “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.”

9. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

10. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

Britannica detailed the life and legacy of Dr. King by describing him as “minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.”

Dr. King’s leadership was fundamental to that movement’s success in ending legal segregation of African-Americans in the South and other parts of the United States.

King rose to national prominence as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which promoted nonviolent tactics, such as the massive March on Washington (1963), to achieve civil rights. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work in the civil rights movement.

His infamous “I Have a dream” speech was delivered by King during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States.

During the speech, Dr. King said, “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the unlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

King’s plans for a Poor People’s March to Washington were interrupted in the spring of 1968 by a trip to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of a strike by that city’s sanitation workers.

King prophetically told a crowd at the Mason Temple Church in Memphis on April 3, the night before he died, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

The next day, while standing on the second-story balcony of the Lorraine Motel, where he and his associates were staying, King was killed by a sniper’s bullet.

King married Coretta Scott, a native Alabamian who was studying at the New England Conservatory of Music. They were married in 1953 and had four children, per Britannica.