While Civil Rights activist, dreamer, and legend Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is actually January 15th, American public school calendars impact the date it is actually observed. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15th, 1929. He was a pivotal advocate for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.King experienced racism from an early age, and those events stayed with and eventually brought him to a life of activism. After graduating college with a doctorate degree in theology, King became a pastor in Alabama. He began a series of peaceful protests in the south that eventually changed many laws dealing with the equality of African Americans. King gave hundreds of moving speeches across the country, and in 1964 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., A Testament of Hope

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963

As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, speech, Aug. 16, 1967

Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dec. 10, 1964

Even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., A Testament of Hope

When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., A Testament of Hope

There is little hope for us until we become toughminded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of softmindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce softminded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., A Testament of Hope

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., A Testament of Hope

I feel that non-violence is really the only way that we can follow because violence is just so self-defeating. A riot ends up creating many more problems for the negro community than it solved. We can through violence burn down a building, but you can’t establish justice. You can murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder through violence. You can murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. And what we’re trying to get rid of is hate, injustice, and all of these other things that continue the long night of man’s inhumanity to man.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., NBC News interview with Sander Vanocur, May 8, 1967

We have lived so long with this idea with people saying it takes time and wait on time, that I find it very difficult to, to adjust to this. I mean, I, I get annoyed almost when I hear it, although I know it takes time. But the people that use this argument have been people so often who, who really didn’t want the change to come, and gradualism for them meant a do nothing-ism, you know, and the standstill-ism, so that it has been a revolt, I think, against the idea of a feeling on the part of some that you can just sit around and wait on time, when, actually, time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., interview with Robert Penn Warren, 1964

Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Montgomery Bus Boycott speech, delivered at Holt Street Baptist Church, Dec. 5, 1955

If physical death is the price that a man must pay to free his children and his white brethren from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing could be more redemptive.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Address at the Golden Anniversary Conference of the National Urban League, Sep. 6, 1960

Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Strength to Love

I think it’s a real problem. And I think the only answer to this problem is the degree to which the nation is able to go; I should say the speed in which we move toward the solution of the problem. The more progress we can have in race relations and the, the more we move toward the goal of an integrated society, the more we lift the hope, so to speak, of the masses of people. And it seems to me that this will lessen the possibility of sporadic violence. On the other hand, if we get setbacks and if something happens where the Civil Rights Bill is watered down, for instance, if the Negro feels that he can do nothing but move from one ghetto to another and one slum to another, the despair and the disappointment will be so great that it will be very difficult to keep the struggle disciplined and nonviolent. So I think it will depend on the rate of progress and the speed, and recognition on the part of the white leadership of, of the need to go on and get this problem solved and solved in a hurry.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., interview with Robert Penn Warren, 1964

I must confess that, ahh … that dream that I had that day has in many points turned into a nightmare. Now I’m not one to lose hope. I keep on hoping. I still have faith in the future. But I’ve had to analyze many things over the last few years and, I would say, over the last few months. I’ve gone through a lot of soul searching and agonizing moments, and I’ve come to see that we have many more difficult days ahead. And some of the old optimism was a little superficial, and now it must be tempered with a solid realism. And I think the realistic fact is that we still have a long, long way to go.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., NBC News interview with Sander Vanocur, May 8, 1967

Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., attributed, A Knock at Midnight

Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Stride Toward Freedom

Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., address at the Episcopal National Cathedral, Washington D.C., Mar. 31, 1968

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., A Testament of Hope

When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, it loses its social perspective…. There is something about a war like this that makes people insensitive. It dulls the conscience. It strengthens the forces of reaction, and it brings into being bitterness and hatred and violence.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., NBC News interview with Sander Vanocur, May 8, 1967

Every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Christmas sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, 1957

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” 1963

I understand that you have an economic system in America known as Capitalism. Through this economic system you have been able to do wonders. You have become the richest nation in the world, and you have built up the greatest system of production that history has ever known. All of this is marvelous, but Americans, there is the danger that you will misuse your Capitalism. I still contend that money can be the root of all evil. It can cause one to live a life of gross materialism. I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheel base on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Nov. 4, 1956

One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Strength to Love

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. It is supported by Southern segregationists who are trying to keep us from achieving our civil rights and our right of equal job opportunity. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., speech to support sanitation workers on strike for union recognition in Memphis, Apr. 3, 1968

There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., speech at Riverside Church in New York City, “A Time to Break Silence”, April 4, 1967

The great military leaders of the past have gone, their empires have crumbled and burned to ashes. But the empire of Jesus, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love, is still growing.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Christmas sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, 1957