MLK Quotes & Women’s March Wisdom

Inspiration and meaning to share

the power of Words

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke eloquently about themes that were powerful and difficult 50 years ago (and for hundreds of years before that), and remain central and challenging in our world today.

He addressed racism, poverty, the terrible and growing economic divide between a few and the masses, social justice, equality, nonviolence. He spoke of our planet, and ecology, and the awe of the dream he envisioned for his children together with all children. He was thoughtful and mindful in his message. Said things that were difficult for some to hear, but necessary to give voice to.

He orated about brotherhood, compassion, love and peace. To hear or read his words now, presents a bit of a dilemma – sadness that the tragedy of so much of what he described 50 years ago, remains true to this day; and hope that we can all take this opportunity to be stirred again by his beautiful message and turn toward actions and voices of respect, equality, inclusion, service.

I heard a linguist talk about our current president as a man who has no handle on semantics – he talks as if he has no idea that his words contain meaning. He doesn’t understand the meaning of his own words.

I noted this in particular contrast to the powerful words of Martin Luther King – every word he spoke was thoughtful and precise and carried full meaning – and meaningfulness. He spoke, being heart-fully connected to his words and knew the power and grace of them all.

I am humbled and hopeful to reconsider his words. As you may know, I appreciate quotes of inspiring and courageous people – from the renown and famous or from everyday heroes. Here I have listed some of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

May they touch your heart and soul too and inspire you as well in your daily journey. May we all connect with our inner courage and each of us find our own ways to make the world a better place.

Quotes of significance from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  • Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
  • The time is always right to do what is right.
  • Life‘s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?“
  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
  • We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
  • Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
  • We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
  • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
  • 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.
  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
  • I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
  • 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.
  • There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
  • We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
  • The quality not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
  • Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
  • I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
  • Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
  • Peace is not merely a distant goal that we see, but the means by which we arrive at that goal.
  • A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
  • The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
  • 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.
  • There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
  • Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
  • The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.
  • Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
  • Seeing is not always believing.
  • We must use time creatively.
  • Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
  • At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.
  • A lie cannot live.
  • The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
  • Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works and since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.
  • Whatever your life‘s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.
  • We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
  • Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
  • 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 first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man what will happen to me?“ But… The good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?“
  • He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
  • Almost always the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
  • 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.
  • Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
  • Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.
  • I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.
  • Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
  • Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
  • A riot is the language of the unheard.
  • Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.
  • The nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
  • Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control.
  • 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.
  • Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
  • The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
  • 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’s pretty important.
  • Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.
  • The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.
  • Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.
  • It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.

Given that the anniversary of the Women’s March is upon us and happening again, I thought it apt to include here the powerful words I saw printed on people’s signs at the first march – inspiring, truth-telling and insightful as they were…

Women’s March Signs: 1/21/17

  • America just went from a grown ass man in the White House to a toddler on Twitter
  • Humpty Trumpty: all the presidents men can’t put America together again
  • Our rights are not up for grabs & neither is my body
  • Make America think again!
  • Science is real
  • Real men don’t grab
  • You can’t comb over sexism and racism
  • Your swamp drain is clogged
  • Empathy not apathy
  • Thanks Trump you made me an activist
  • I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept
  • Never doubt that a small  group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.
  • Feminism: the radical notion that women are people too.
  • No uterus –
    No opinion
  • Respect my existence or expect my resistance
  • We the people
  • If u cut off my reproductive choices, can I cut off yours?
  • The power of love will overcome the love of power
  • Men of quality don’t fear Equality
  • Hope dealer
  • To be great u must do good
  • A woman’s place is in the revolution
  • A Woman’s place is in the resistance
  • It takes a village to Trump   -ism (race, sex)
  • Greed = American carnage
  • Hear our voice
  • Imagine a nation where women’s rights are inalienable human rights
  • Girls just wanna have FUNdamental human rights
  • Prejudice + power = racism
  • It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • We March forward – not backward
  • Make America Mexico again
  • Bernie Sanders: 2016(crossed out) 2020
  • We demand care not chaos
  • Power to the peaceful
  • Xenophobia is not a toy
  • We are the ones we’ve been waiting for
  • Don’t mess with my mommy
  • I can’t believe I still have to protest this fuckin’ shit!!
  • There will be hell toupee
  • We teach the 99% (NEA)
  • Women are the wall and Trump will pay
  • Make America empathize again
  • WTF
  • Everything is not fine
  • Up with empathy down w/ hypocrisy
  • Hands too small to build a wall
  • FREE hugs
  • Don’t play nice – fight back
  • Dear world – we are so sorry
  • 2 teachers + 1 engineer = 1 immigrant mom
  • We will over comb
  • We’re better than this / our children are watching
  • The emperor has no clothes – truth not tweets
  • This is what a scientist looks like
  • Keep your rage
  • Vivir sin miedo
  • White silence is violence
  • UGH!
  • Quit tweeting and start leading
  • Carefully watching our new temphire
  • A child holding up a sign: If you want a child in the White House vote for me in 2020
  • Yo no creo en fronteras
  • Make America love again
  • No importa de donde eres, estamos contentos que seas nuestro vecino.. no matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.

If you or someone you care about is having difficulty with finding meaning or facing insurmountable challenges please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
[email protected]
(510) 482-4445


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