Martin Luther King Jr. Day Quotes and Sayings 'I Have a Dream'

Donna Diegel's picture

Martin Luther King, Jr's famous "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom rally on August 28, 1963. Over 200,000 civil rights supporters gathered to hear one of the greatest speeches ever delivered. The following quotes from "I Have a Dream" and other noteworthy sermons are inspirational and moving.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 which would have made him 81 today. However, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, thus ending his young career and life as a Baptist minister, husband and father at the age of 39.

Both the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches in the USA recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. as a martyr, so naturally many of King's quotes are from sermons he preached during his years behind the pulpit as a Baptist pastor. Others are from political rallies, marches and speeches.

"I Have a Dream"
Martin Luther King, Jr's most famous speech – the "I Have a Dream" speech – was originally titled "Normalcy, Never Again." It was a compilation of thoughts and speeches written at different times, and not one single speech. It is reported that gospel singer Mahalia Jackson yelled from the crowd during King's speech, "Tell them about the dream, Martin," at which point King put down his speech and started preaching. These are some of the most famous lines from King's "I Have a Dream" speech:

  • "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"
  • "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 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 down together at a table of brotherhood."

Quotes and Sayings from Martin Luther King Jr.

  • "A right delayed is a right denied."
  • "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 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."
  • "The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."
  • "I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land."
  • "I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
  • "I want to be the white man's brother, not his brother-in-law."
  • "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."
  • "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
  • "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
  • "If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream."

Martin Luther King Jr's Prophetic Quotes

  • "If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive."
  • "Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead. The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral."
  • "Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul-saving music of eternity?"
  • "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
  • "The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important."
  • "It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it."

Martin Luther King Jr. made it clear he wanted people to remember him for what he stood for, not for the school he went to, or the awards he received. He made this request just in case people were around for his funeral.

  • "I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.
  • I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
  • Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. 1968 Year In Review,," quotes wikipedia.

See the video of Walter Cronkite on "CBS Evening News" as he delivers the horrific report of Martin Luther King's Assassination on April 4, 1968.

Written by Donna Diegel


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