I have a dream…that one day my four little children will one day live in a world where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”…. That quote from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is by far his most recognizable line from his speeches. But the legacy of Martin Luther King includes many more inspiring quotations from sermons and speeches that the charismatic leader of the Civil Rights movement delivered in his short life of 39 years.
Dr. King was also known for his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” speech, which was written and published in 1963, before the March on Washington. This famous essay focused on not only the beliefs he held when he was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama but also on his disappointment with prominent church leaders of his time who remained silent or admonished him for his activism.
Dr. King had also delivered the “I have a Dream” speech before, at different times and variations, and the passage was so well known to him and his followers that one of the women listening, a prominent African American singer named Mahalia Jackson, was heard to say, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” while he was speaking that day.
Dr. King spoke of the importance of being active for the causes you passionately believe in. And he was one of the most famous activists who lived his beliefs daily as he “walked the walk” for Civil Rights and later, as he spoke out as an anti-war and peace activist. Martin Luther King was working to help garbage collectors organize and to fight for a decent living wage when he was killed in Memphis in 1968. The actions Dr. King took, and the way he lived his life reinforce the fact that his core beliefs were with him to the end. And though he is known for the famous “I have a Dream” speech, there were many memorable quotes and moving passages from Martin Luther King Jr. throughout his brief lifetime that stirred people to action. Dr. King was only 39 years old when he died, but in his own words, he noted: “The quality, not the longevity of one’s life is what is important”
Here are a few more of Dr. King’s most famous quotes:
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend
The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice