The third Monday of every January marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The day, which is an American federal holiday, celebrates the birthday of the civil rights leader despite not falling on his actual birth date of January 15 on some years.

MLK advocated nonviolent activism in the American civil rights movement. The goal was to end racial segregation and discrimination against African-Americans. In addition, MLK and his supporters pushed to secure legal recognition and federal protection of the citizenship rights enumerated in the Constitution and federal law.

The idea and desire for "Martin Luther King Jr. Day" came after his assassination in 1968.  In 1983, U.S. President Ronald Regan signed the holiday into law, with it being observed for the first time 3 years later in 1986. Surprisingly, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed by all 50 states of USA for the very first time in 2000.

To honor and celebrate MLK's inspiring and impactful legacy, we have collected 25 of his most memorable quotes.

  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  • “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”
  • “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 must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
  • “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'”
  • “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.”
  • “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  • “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  • “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.”
  • “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  • “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
  • “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
  • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  • “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
  • “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”
  • “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
  • “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.”