Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation to change largely through his riveting speeches. Considered one of the greatest orators in United States history, his thoughts on racial equality have been repeated by many speakers throughout the years since his assassination. His skill with words powered King’s nonviolent battle for integration and equal rights. Here are 10 quotations from the eminently quotable activist.
1. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. — “Stride Toward Freedom,” 1958.
2. 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. — “Strength to Love,” 1963.
3. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. — “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963.
4. Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. — “Strength to Love,” 1963.
5. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. — “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963.
6. The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. — “Strength to Love,” 1963.
7. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. — “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963.
8. 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. — “I Have a Dream,” civil rights march on Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963. (Source: The New York Times)
9. Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. — “Why We Can’t Wait,” 1964.
10. The security we profess to seek in foreign adventures we will lose in our decaying cities. — [Referring to U.S. Vietnam policy.] Address at Riverside Church, New York. (Source: History Today, April 1998)