In this time of chaos, fear, and doubt, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words bring calm, clarity, and unity.

January 15 should have been King’s 92nd birthday and Americans celebrated his legacy and what his words of wisdom mean now during the 35th annual MLK Day of Celebration on Monday, January 18. The pastor and humanitarian’s life was cut short when he was just 39 years old: he was shot and killed on April 4, 1968.

You can find some of MLK’s most important and poignant quotes, collected by Bored Panda, below. Upvote the ones that resonated the most with you and the ones that you think are especially important in these confusing times. Become a part of the discussion and share your thoughts about King’s ideas and his legacy in the comments.

#1

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "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."

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Yeet Twenty
Community Member
9 months ago (edited)

R.I.P. Martin Luther King, if you were alive today you still wouldn't be happy with the ways some americans are today.

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#2

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

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Natalia
Community Member
9 months ago

So true.

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#3

"If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving."

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Annie Persson
Community Member
9 months ago

"...and if you can't do that, you know the saying, if you can't do that, you get someone to carry you..."

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A very recent documentary, MLK/FBI, released by director Sam Pollard and based on newly declassified files shows how the US government surveilled and harassed King: from wiretaps to suggestions that he should kill himself.

Meanwhile, King’s oldest son, Martin Luther King III, told CNN that his father would be disappointed with the US if he were still alive. “My father always believed in the people of our nation. Certainly, he would be greatly disappointed in how we have chosen to conduct ourselves at this particular moment,” he said. “He understood we are a United States of America, not a divided state of America, and he would be telling us we must turn to each other, not turn on each other.”

Bored Panda spoke about the fight to end racism in the United States with positivity blogger and writer Shola Richards. According to Richards, the deaths of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Breonna Taylor on March 13, and others “irrevocably jolted awake” many people to the reality of what life in the US is like for black people. However, he pointed out that real change is going to be a long journey that will not happen overnight or even in a single year.

#4

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
9 months ago

The promoter of love became a victim of hatred. In such cases it may seem that evil prevails. But then you turn back and see where MLK is in the minds and hearts of the people and where those who killed and denied him are. You see what his achievement is and where those who wanted to stop him stand. And you don't even ask where those enemies of humanity and justice are. You simply know

#5

"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"

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Reginald Joseph
Community Member
9 months ago

These are perhaps the words I have most often heard him so eloquently state--his beautiful, resonant voice speaking a universal truth we have yet to implement. I hope everyone who hears these words is moved to put them into action.

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#6

"The time is always right to do what is right."

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Reginald Joseph
Community Member
9 months ago

Yes.

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“My hope is that as many people as possible will continue to educate themselves on systemic racism by reading informative books, like ‘How to be an Anti-Racist’ by Ibram Kendi or ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo. I hope that as many people as possible will continue to stand up to racism and show up as strong allies, despite some of their friends and family rolling their eyes at them for doing so,” Richards explained his hopes that the movement against systemic racism doesn’t fizzle out but continues through people educating themselves.

In Richards’ opinion, “people of all races” protesting together in large numbers is the most effective way to “demand meaningful change” in the country.

“I hope that people will continue to have important discussions about race, even though those discussions can be uncomfortable and difficult. Most of all, I hope that people won’t get tired, become discouraged, and quit on this long journey to reshape America. This is how we must fight racism, and as with anything meaningful, it’s going to require a lot of work.” Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. But it’s worth the effort for a world with more humanity.

#7

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
9 months ago

This have to be repeated over and over again, all around the world

#8

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

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Celeste Grant
Community Member
9 months ago

This one is so very relevant to today's society; there are many selfish people who refuse to acknowledge their social responsibilities.

#9

“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.”

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alwaysMispelled
Community Member
9 months ago

Perfect words.

#10

"We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifices. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor — both black and white, both here and abroad."

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Monica Michelle
Community Member
9 months ago

I want this one on all government buildings. This morning at be understood by those who make policies

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#11

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it."

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Omar Pearson
Community Member
9 months ago

If only that were truly true because I've seen a lot in this country.

#12

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "I have decided to stick with love. ... Hate is too great a burden to bear."

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tuzdayschild
Community Member
9 months ago

Me too

#13

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "The more there are riots, the more repressive action will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society."

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tuzdayschild
Community Member
9 months ago

Too soon

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#14

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

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Eric Law
Community Member
9 months ago

And just think... now we have a cable "news" network dedicated to fostering just those things.

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#15

"The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to live intensively and to think critically. ... Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education."

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Reginald Joseph
Community Member
9 months ago

We are falling so far behind in education. All this talk of supporting families and communities, but yet education is continually on the chopping block when it is the basis of everything worthwhile in society.

#16

"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."

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Reginald Joseph
Community Member
9 months ago

The most evil is done when good people fail to act.

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#17

"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."

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Carole Deem
Community Member
9 months ago

I was a stupid, young kid when this man was alive. I wish I could have heard him speak. Do you think James Earl Jones could be persuaded to make recordings of his speeches. I think his voice would be a great tribute to the words.

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#18

"Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter."

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Reginald Joseph
Community Member
9 months ago

I find this one incredibly difficult to master, but he is right.

#19

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."

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Omar Pearson
Community Member
9 months ago

Poignant words still so fitting today.

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#20

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."

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Omar Pearson
Community Member
9 months ago

Regardless of his wisdom and foresight, they had him killed anyway.

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#21

"If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live."

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Random Person
Community Member
9 months ago

Woah.

#22

"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."

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Reginald Joseph
Community Member
9 months ago

Absolutely. Look at the last four years of Trump's war against America. All the racists he has allowed and encouraged to come out of the woodwork who used to hide in dark corners. The harm he has done and the normalization of lies, cruelty, bigotry and racism will take great love and work to overcome.

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#23

"Let no man pull you so low as to hate him."

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Random Person
Community Member
9 months ago

Good way to look at it.

#24

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude."

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#25

"The ultimate tragedy ... was not the brutality of the bad people, but the silence of the good people."

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#26

"There comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right."

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#27

30 Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr. That Show How Exceptional He Was "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will."

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alwaysMispelled
Community Member
9 months ago

Imagine the good he would've gone on to accomplish, how much farther he could've advanced the rights of black people, had he not been assassinated

#28

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

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Carole Deem
Community Member
9 months ago

How do you read these and not end up in tears.

#29

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

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#30

"Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another."

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