January 19

Motivation Mondays: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Most Inspired Quotes

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“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.

Dr. M. L. King holding a press conference outside Gracie Mansion, New York 1964
Dr. M. L. King, Jr., holding a press conference outside Gracie Mansion, New York 1964

Motivation Mondays: Communication – Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) left a rich legacy of both memorable acts of courage and an impressive collection of inspiring words. His quotes appear in all forms of media publications and are shared daily on social media sites.  I bet we all have favorite quotes by Dr. MLK that we love and, perhaps, reference from time to time. Over the years, I’ve shared a few on my blog and on social media, and whenever I come across a new one, I write it in a journal.

For this tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr, Day, I’ve culled some of his most inspiring quotes/sayings that I’ve seen used often and that people turn to again and again; including some of my favorite ones. The quotes in block-quotes below cover a fairly wide span of his life and work. They are both inspirational and motivational, and remind us to never be silent in the face of injustice. In the second half of this post (see below), I’ve added the 14 quotes written on the Inscription wall of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Do you have a favorite Dr. MLK quote you’d like to share? Is there a quote you see often on your social media sites? Please do share yours in the comments.

Dr. Martin Luther King giving I Have A Dream speech
Dr. Martin Luther King giving his famous I Have A Dream speech


Martin Luther KingI Have a Dream Speech – August 28, 1963

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“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.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.,
“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.” Martin Luther King Jr.

I remember the first time I heard Dr. M.L. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, I was energized by the power of his message and his singular commitment to see justice and peace prevail. Yet, there was something about that speech that tugged at my heart, reminding me of the terrible ways, some might say out of ignorance and hate, humans treat each other. A few of my favorite MLK quotes (see above/below) come from the same speech because they speak to a period in history when our dreams were still deferred.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr speaks to crowd outdoors  in Chicago
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr giving a speech in Chicago


Selma Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr. Movie HD

Davie Oyelowo on Playing the Iconic Role of Dr. King

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“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.
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“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.

Recently, I saw the movie Selma – One Dream Can Change The World. It was a powerful depiction of the epic march from Selma to Montgomery which culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It shared some of Dr King’s personal struggles in his marriage, the threats on his family’s lives and the government agencies that worked hard to subvert the movement. Even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, many black people were not allowed to vote and racial discrimination remained a way of life there. In 1965, Selma, Alabama became the face of the struggle for black suffrage, and the movie revisited the incredible violence and hatred spewed at the demonstrators during that period. Lives were lost, both black and white, as the non-violent marches and struggle raged on with Dr. King in the forefront.


Documentary: Selma to Montgomery March

David Oyelowo, an Actor/Producer, played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with sensitivity and reverence. At some point in the movie, he embodied the essence of Dr. MLK and for a time, we forgot that this was an actor not the man. It was remarkable. Dr King was a man of great faith and one poignant piece in the movie was when he knelt down on the Edward Pettus bridge and led the crowd in quiet prayer. Many expected him to stand up and march forward into the group of baton wielding cops. He didn’t. Instead, he turned around and returned to their meeting place. That march across the bridge would happen later. He never gave up the dream but he always knew that “For everything, there is a season…” and timing is everything. Go see that movie!

The details for Motivation Mondays are below. Join in! The themes for January are:
01/05 – Silence
01/12 – Perspective
01/19 – Communication – Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
01/26 – Comfort
02/02 – Attitude

More Below!

“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.” Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Memorial Sculpture in Wash, DC
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sculpture, with arms akimbo, stands tall at NPS Memorial  in Wash DC
Stone of Hope For Dr King at NPS Memorial site
Stone of Hope commemorating Dr King’s words at NPS Memorial site

The fourteen quotes are:(wikipedia)

  • “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (31 March 1968, National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.)
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” (1963, Strength to Love)
  • “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” (10 December 1964, Oslo, Norway)
  • “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” (18 April 1959, Washington, D.C.)
  • “I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.” (25 February 1967, Los Angeles, California)
  • “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” (24 December 1967, Atlanta, Georgia)
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” (16 April 1963, Birmingham, AL)
  • “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” (10 December 1964, Oslo, Norway)
  • “It is not enough to say “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.” (24 December 1967, Atlanta)
  • “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.” (25 February 1967, Los Angeles)
  • “Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.” (4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York)
  • “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (5 December 1955, Montgomery, Alabama)
  • “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.” (16 April 1963, Birmingham, AL)
  • “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” (16 April 1963, Birmingham, AL)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a visionary and a powerful orator. Fourteen of his top quotes (see above) are etched on the National Park Service Memorial Inscription Wall. His words resonated deeply in our hearts, and his call to action moved many to cross the racial divide to march for an end to segregation; civil rights activists, freedom walkers, families, and people of all races joined the cause and, gradually, things shifted in the US. Have we fully overcome? It depends on who you speak to and their vantage point. What do you think?
Dr King’s message still carries a tremendous amount of weight. On Goodreads, there is a list of 400 quotes and Brainy Quotes has 5 or more long pages worth.  There is a hunger for such motivational and inspirational messages. No matter how many times I hear Dr. King speak, I always find myself wondering when and, at what point, all the global violence will end?


Oprah and David Oyelowo on new civil rights film “Selma”


Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo on ‘SELMA’ | TIFF 2014

“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long… Martin Luther King Jr.,
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“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.” Martin Luther King Jr.

When can we, as members of the human family, develop a burning passion for justice instead of a burning desire for hatred? I don’t know, but Dr. King had a huge selection of far-reaching words of wisdom to guide us. Four plus decades later, his inspired messages still resonates with many of us. What are your thoughts? Do Share!

Positive Motivation Tip: We can choose the path of peace or join those who choose hate. What  we choose, we become. Good begets good.

Motivation Mondays is open to anyone who wishes to share a motivational quote, photo, personal challenge or a post that encourages others to start the week on an upbeat note.
Basic Instructions: Each week, I will have a motivation word to help us create a response. (See listed words for end of November and all of December below)
Email address: You may email or share your post as a comment and I will add it to the round-up of related posts. email it to: contact(@)mirthandmotivation(.)com
Category tag: – Share your post using Motivation Mondays
Twitter hashtag: – Use this on Twitter #MotvnM
Dedicated Page: There is a dedicated page for Motivation Mondays. It has the same instructions and will include other helpful tools and a link to the round-up
Facebook Page: MotivationOnMondays Join our page and add your post and/or any motivational piece you think will be helpful to others.
Facebook Community: We have a Facebook community forum to compliment the page. It serves as another way to share uplifting posts and thoughts. Please join in and add your voice.

Badge: – I created a fun badge using PicMonkey’s free photo editing tools. You can create your own, use WordPress’ integrated tool on your blog or you are welcome to use mine. (see dedicated page)
Tag: – Motivation Mondays
Hashtag: – #MotvnM

Related Posts

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS:  All Photos  Dr. MLK, jrDr. MLK. jrMLK Dream SpeechDr King Sculpture via Wikipedia.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet


Tags

#MotvnM, Civil Rights Movement, I have a dream speech, inspired quotes, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Martin Luther King quotes, MLK, Motivation, Motivation Mondays, postaday, reflections, Selma Movie


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  • Thanks for sharing these quotes. They truly are inspirational. I especially liked this one below:

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Thanks for sharing these quotes! I especially liked this one:
    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

  • MLK’s philosophies, sacrifices, and the results of everything he tirelessly fought so hard for are truly admirable. It’s good that his life and achievements are commemorated to remind us of what he’s done and in the process, I hope that it inspires not just leaders but everyone to fight injustice and to always choose to do what is right even if it is hard.

    PS. I have yet to see Selma.

  • One of the best revolutionary human kind that the world was blessed to have. His legacies will live on forever. This makes me want to see the movie too. Thank you for writing this Eliz!

  • Martin Luther King is really an inspiration and someone ahead of his time. He is an influencer and has made a much more better place with people more aware of each others needs and rights.

  • You picked out one of my favourite quotes. Our lives begin to end the day when wr are silent about things that matter. Another great read, he certainly was a very noble man.

  • Dr. King was an amazing human. His words are some of the most inspirational ever spoken!

  • This was such a great post for today, and just in general. I remember studying him in high school but I didn’t really grasp the depth of everything until college when we watched civil rights documentaries on him and Medgar Evers. He was a great leader, very inspirational. Thanks for posting those amazing quotes.

  • These are great quote. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an amazing man and not just for what he did for the civil rights movement. He was a man that knew the value of standing up for what’s right.

  • I love MLK – what an amazing man! And yes, his quotes, his words – are perfection!

  • The quotes are what we need in our lives. All of it like: “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” Martin Luther King Jr. Fernando Lachica

  • He was an amazing man.. His words inspire people on a daily basis! I also heard that Selma was an amazing movie.

  • Listening to his speeches nowadays you can really hear how charismatic this man was. He was an incredible speaker. His words still ring true!

  • Wonderful quotes and a wonderful post. My son and I spent the day discussing Dr. King and equality today. It was amazing to hear and see my son’s grasp, feelings and opinions on it.

  • His words still ring true for today. I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden to bear. I love that quote.

  • Omg love this post!!!! Martin Luther King Jr was seriously such an inspiration!!!

  • I favourite MLK and first knowledge of his quotes was I have a dream, never will i forget the day i learnt of it. Happy MLK day

  • Mr. King is one in a million, a man bless with great motivational instinct, as seen in his quotes.
    As a mission pastor I definitely agree with this one “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” As if the Lord Jesus is the one saying it.

  • Mr. King is one in a million, a man blessed with great motivational instinct, as seen in his quotes. His legacy continues to live on. I definitely agree with this one “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” As if the Lord Jesus is the one saying it.

  • Martin Luther King was such an inspirational man and prolific speaker. I wish humanity would realise that we are all born equal.

  • I love that you have a post honoring MLK and MLK day. So many people skipped over it. I actually didn’t realize it was MLK day yesterday as I am in Sweden and it isn’t celebrated.

  • Martin Luther King is one of the persons that influenced my being. I’ve read couple of articles and excerpts from books that really revealed how he’s battled with injustices and even a great proponent of equality in rights. All men are indeed created equal. Thanks for reminding me about this.

  • Definitely one of the most amazing people the world has ever seen! His words will definitely live on forever! 🙂

  • What a wonderful post on Martin Luther King Jr., a great tribute to a remarkable leader!

  • He really had a way of boiling truths down to their essence. He was certainly an amazing man! I hadn’t heard of the movie Selma, but now I really want to see it!

  • There were so many quotes from Dr Martin Luther King circulating on Instagram, Facebook and twitter on the 15th. It’s amazing to see how a man can inspire so many people and leave behind a legacy and legend. He’s someone I aspire to be, to make changes to people’s life!

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said so many great things. One of the things I really liked about him was that he stood for everyone. He did mention his main reasons for his speeches but for the most part he wanted everyone to be treated equal not just focusing on color but everyone of all walks of life. That is how it should be. I think now days people focus on just making it equal for them. I think we as Americans should be trying to make it equal for all because when you just focus on one issue in my opinion it keeps that issue going. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr focused on all people and sincerely cared for others. He was a great man.

  • He was a truly wonderful man. He died on my seventh birthday – I remember seeing the news of his death on the television news. My favourite quotes are probably the one about the darkness not being able to drive out the darkness and the one about his hopes for his four children. He’s as relevant today as he was in his own lifetime.

    Thanks for this post.

  • I am not familiar with his quote but I have seen video of the I have a dream speech. Such empowering and powerful words. -katrina centeno

  • Among his quotes, this is the one that I love the most. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is definitely one of a kind.

  • Dr. Martin Luther King is such an inspiring man, a great leader who inspired millions. His quotes are always amazing & truly inspirational. I would really love to watch the movie.

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes that I like the most is “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.” This is so true! Forget the unhappiness and just focus on the people that love us and we love. Happiness is a matter of choice.

  • A truly remarkable man with such an amazing way of conveying his thoughts honestly and openly. I wish there were more like Dr. King in the world.

  • MLK has always been a great influence in my life. He isn’t just a legendary figure but to me, he is a hero. 🙂

  • MLK is one extraordinary gentleman who help dark colored people get the same rights. We need more MLK nowadays, specially with the inequality and injustice that once again is on a high case.

  • This is a wonderful post. I loved seeing all the quotes in one place – it’s always good to take time to reflect on what an inpsiration he was.

  • I honestly don’t know much about Dr Martin Luther King but I’ve read quotes through the social media and my favorite has always been “The time is always right to do what is right.” There are other quotes I really like and realizing that I’m already inspired by his quotes/words, what more if I could really learn about him – his personality, his life… his legacy.

  • Such an amazing, iconic figure – the quotes are so empowering! Sim @ simslife.co.uk

  • Can you even imagine how hard it must have been to hold and act on such strong convictions during his time? That makes his work even more awe-inspiring. Hurrah for he, and all who had that faith and courage.

  • Dr. King had such a profound impact on the history of our country. Many of these quotes are commonly heard all these years later.

  • What a great read! “I have a dream” is my favorite but he was a smart man so I love them all. Xo

  • much respect for Martin luther king (y) such a great man!! he fought for people’s rights !! left his head held high !!! unlike some politicians today 😉 we want another martin luther king 🙂

  • Wow! I really enjoyed your post! MLK’s quotes are soooo inspirational and really touch the heart and soul.

  • Being from the uk I’m sure there is nowhere near the amount of emphasis on the man as there is in US schools but I remember her learning about him at quite a young age and just being amazed at how good a man can be. A very sad tale really.

  • […] Although I didn’t spend my formative years in the US, I was cognizant of the history of the Civil Right movement because my parents had books and talked about it with their friends. We also studied it in school and I remember thinking why anyone would want to deprive another of their basic fundamental rights to a decent quality of life. I tried to imagine how frightening it must have been for kids to live under such conditions and be attacked for wanting to attend a better school. Dr King, a father of four, envisioned a world where his kids and all kids would live amicably and he died holding firmly to that dream. While some might see our current local and global climate as a dream deferred, we must not give up hope. Start where you are and teach your children to walk in the light. Treating other humans with decency must begin with us. READ: Motivation Mondays: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Most Inspired Quotes […]

  • Martin Luther King “I have a Dream” speech is one of the most iconic speech and most recognized one on earth. It has so much impact on me and inspired me since I was a high school student.

  • I really appreciate this motivational quotes as always. Keep inspiring us through your positive vibes.