Studying the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an important part of studying Dr. King’s legacy. Below, we share some of our favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes for the classroom.
An important caveat: In recent years, there’s been increasing conversation about the tendency to focus on “inspirational” King quotes without engaging in the civil rights leader’s radical work. It’s important to introduce the quotes below as part of a broader context and examination of King’s life.
1. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
2. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
3. “So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”
4. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
5. “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
6. “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.”
7. “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
8. “Real appreciation must flow from the deep seas of the heart.”
9. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”
10. “The time is always ripe to do right.”
11. “And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”
12. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.”
13. “We’ve learned to fly the air like birds. We’ve learned to swim the seas like fish. And yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth like brothers and sisters.”
14. “There is nothing more majestic and sublime than the quiet testimony of a people willing to sacrifice and suffer for the cause of freedom.”
15. “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
16. “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind.”
17. “One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.”
18. “Find a voice in a whisper.”
19. “If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.”
20. “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.”
21. “So in the days ahead, let us not sink into the quicksands of violence; rather let us stand on the high ground of love and non-injury.”
22. “So it means that we must rise up and protest courageously wherever we find segregation. Yes, we must do it nonviolently. We cannot afford to use violence in the struggle.”
23. “There is no such thing as separate but equal. Separation, segregation, inevitably makes for inequality.”
24. “No, violence is not the way. Hate is not the way. Bitterness is not the way. We must stand up with love in our hearts, with a lack of bitterness and yet a determination to protest courageously for justice and freedom in this land.”
25. “You see, equality is not only a matter of mathematics and geometry, but it’s a matter of psychology.”
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Plus, check out our favorite Martin Luther King Jr. books and activities.