7 best Martin Luther King Jr. quotes you may not know

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is often revered for his nonviolence and his oft-quoted “I Have a Dream” speech, but the Atlanta-born Baptist minister and civil rights leader has many quotes that are just as inspiring as the familiar ones.

In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, here are a few of the best quotes from the late icon that you may not be aware of.

  1. In his April 1967 speech, “Beyond Vietnam” he said of the choices that must be made for the betterment of the nation, “Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”
  2. During an address delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention thought to have occurred in August 1967, he explained why love is needed saying, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
  3. The civil rights leader remarked on the need for executive orders long before that came into play amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also,” he said in a 1962 speech at Dartmouth.
  4. In a Sunday sermon called “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” which was delivered four days before his assassination in April 1968, King remarked on the U.S.’s responsibility to address poverty saying in part, “it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”
  5. Delivering a message at Ebenezer Baptist Church called “Drum Major Instinct,” the Morehouse Man remarked on the requirements to serve — and it didn’t involve higher education. He said, “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. ... You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
  6. Discussing the Montgomery Bus Boycott in March 1956, King remarked, “We can’t slow up because of our love for democracy and our love for America. Someone should tell Faulkner that the vast majority of the people on this globe are colored.” The statement was in response to author William Faulkner’s statement that civil rights activists should let white Americans get used to Black Americans having equality.
  7. In his February 1960 speech, “A Creative Protest,” King discussed the feeling of being fed up with oppression. “There comes a time when people get tired of being plunged into the abyss of exploitation and nagging injustice,” he said.