Published on January 16th 2011 by Leon Shepherd

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States, and he has become a human rights icon: King is recognized as a martyr by two Christian churches.[1] A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career.[2] He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president. King’s efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history.
In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and opposing the Vietnam War, both from a religious perspective. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. national holiday in 1986.

10.  “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.”


9.   “ I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”


8.  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


7.  “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”


6.  “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”


5.  “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.”


4.  “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”


3.  “Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”


2.  “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”



1. “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.”

History | Comments (13)

13 Responses to “Top 10 Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr.”

  1. Trisha Says:

    Every one of those quotes is so profound. It is amazing how so much knowledge can be carried in so few words. Each quote commands a silent moment of respectful contemplation.

  2. Trisha Says:

    I love re-reading these quotes. How can a person read them and not want to push themselves to be better than they are? I am sure Dr. King could have instilled drive and motivation in a rock.

  3. Leon Says:

    I agree Trisha.

  4. Sulaiman Dave Bola-Babs Says:

    I love these great quotes with passion. Long live MLK, Jr. in our minds.

  5. ROY D. FINNEY JR. Says:


  6. Leon Says:

    Thanks Roy! Glad that you like them.

  7. Lyn Says:

    Fantastic job Leon. Words to live by and take a moment to remember.

  8. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    This is by far my favorite post. I know this one was difficult because they are all a symbol of how we should live our life. Talk about pleasing to God. What a great man. Thank you Leon. This was worth the wait.

  9. Leon Says:

    Thanks Lyn!

  10. Leon Says:

    Thanks Lenora!

  11. Shack Says:

    Leon – What an Excellent TT in conjunction with yesterday’s observance! My personal favorites in order are Nos.1, 4, 5 and 8.

  12. Leon Says:

    Thanks for the positive feedback Shack!

  13. Bean Pie Says:

    I live by #9 and #4, wish more Black folks did.