The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

All labor has dignity.

A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.

And in every one of us, there's a war going on. It's a civil war. I don't care who you are, I don't care where you live, there is a civil war going on in your life. And every time you set out to be good, there's something pulling on you, telling you to be evil. It's going on in your life. Every time you set out to love, something keeps pulling on you, trying to get you to hate. Every time you set out to be kind and say nice things about people, something is pulling on you to be jealous and envious and to spread evil gossip about them. There's a civil war going on. There is a schizophrenia, as the psychologists or the psychiatrists would call it, going on within all of us. And there are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us...There's a tension at the heart of human nature. And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it.

As a young man with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Bitterness has not the capacity to make the distinction between some and all. When some members of the dominant group, particularly those in power, are racist in attitude and practice, bitterness accuses the whole group.

But I am also concerned about our moral uprightness and the health of our souls. Therefore I must oppose any attempt to gain our freedom by the methods of malice, hate, and violence that have characterized our oppressors. Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.” Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Capitalism is always in danger of inspiring men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life. We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity.

Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.

Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why the psychiatrists say, "Love or perish." Hate is too great a burden to bear.

How often have the frustrations of second-class citizenship and humiliating status led us into blind outrage against each other and the real cause and course of our dilemma been ignored?

I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.

I cannot make myself believe that God wanted me to hate. I'm tired of violence, I've seen too much of it. I've seen such hate on the faces of too many sheriffs in the South. And I'm not going to let my oppressor dictate to me what method I must use. Our oppressors have used violence. Our oppressors have used hatred. Our oppressors have used rifles and guns. I'm not going to stoop down to their level. I want to rise to a higher level. We have a power that can't be found in Molotov cocktails.

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable

Ik raakte ervan overtuigd dat niet meewerken aan een slechte zaak net zo goed een morele verplichting inhoudt als meewerken aan iets goeds.

In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

I was in the kitchen drinking coffee when I heard Coretta cry, "Martin, Martin, come quickly!" I put down my cup and ran toward the living room. As I approached the front window Coretta pointed joyfully to a slowly moving bus: "Darling, it's empty!

One of the greatest paradoxes of the Black Power movement was that it talked unceasingly about not imitating the values of white society, but in advocating violence it was imitating the worst, the most brutal, and the most uncivilized value of American life. American Negroes had not been mass murderers. They had not murdered children in Sunday school, nor had they hung white men on trees bearing strange fruit. They had not been hooded perpetrators of violence, lynching human beings at will and drowning them at whim.

One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.

One of these days I'm going to put my body where my mind is.

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”... The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.

The plain, inexorable fact was that any attempt of the America Negro to overthrow his oppressor with violence would not work...The courageous efforts of our own insurrectionist brothers, such as Denmark Vassey and Nat Turner, should be eternal reminders to us that a violent rebellion is doomed from the start. Anyone leading a violent rebellion must be willing to make an honest assessment regarding the possible casualties to a minority population confronting a well-armed, wealthy majority with a fanatical right wing that would delight in exterminating thousands of black men, women, and children.

There is nothing more majestic than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for their freedom and dignity.

The time has come for an all-out war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for "the least of these".

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

Violent revolts are generated by revolting conditions and there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people who feel they have no stake in it, who feel they have nothing to lose. To the young victim of the slums, this society has so limited the alternatives of his life that the expression of his manhood is reduced to the ability to defend himself physically.

We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity.

Whatever I was, I owed to my family and to all those who struggled with me. But my biggest debt I owed to my wife. She was the one who gave my life meaning. All I could pledge to her, and to all those millions, was that I would do all I could to justify the faith that she, and they, had in me. I would try more than ever to make my life one of which she, and they, could be proud. I would do in private that which I knew my public responsibility demanded.

When people are voiceless, they will have temper tantrums like a child who has not been paid attention to. And riots are massive temper tantrums from a neglected and voiceless people.