Privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.
God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men, and brown men, and yellow men; God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.
We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Man is not made for the state; the state is made for man. To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person. Man must never be treated as a means to the end of the state, but always as an end within himself.
I should have been reminded that disappointment produces despair and despair produces bitterness, and that the one thing certain about bitterness is its blindness. Bitterness.
When I speak of love, I am speaking of that force which all the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.
This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream – a dream yet unfulfilled.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.
The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.
It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times.
We must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.
It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.
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.
I submit that an individual who breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law.
In the struggle for human rights and justice, Negros will make a mistake if they become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns.
Make a career of humanity… It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man… You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.
Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come. This is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom; something without has reminded him that he can gain it.
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.
If a man hasn't found something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.
Everybody can be great; you only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by 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.
No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.
A dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character.
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
What affects one in a major way, affects all in a minor way.
God is able to give you the power to endure that which cannot be changed... Why be anxious? Come what may, God is able.
The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
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.
But dignity is also corroded by poverty no matter how poetically we invest the humble with simple graces and charm. No worker can maintain his morale or sustain his spirit if in the market place his capacities are declared to be worthless to society.
Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.
The non-violent resistor not only avoids external, physical violence, but he avoids internal violence of spirit. He not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he refuses to hate him. And he stands with understanding, goodwill at all times.
Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one's soul.
I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.
The words 'bad timing' came to be ghosts haunting our every move in Birmingham. Yet people who used this argument were ignorant of the background of our planning...they did not realize that it was ridiculous to speak of timing when the clock of history showed that the Negro had already suffered one hundred years of delay.
My call to the ministry was not a miraculous or supernatural something. On the contrary it was an inner urge calling me to serve humanity.