These 50 powerful quotes sum up just how incredible MLK was.

In 1968, our nation lost one of the most incredible citizens in United States history.  

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Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968, outside a Tennessee motel room. He was just 39 years old.


The pastor, activist, and humanitarian led an incredibly profound and impactful life. Largely responsible for helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, King organized, marched, and became accustomed to being inconvenienced and uncomfortable for the greater good.  

King's mission toward peace, black freedom, and equality for all didn't stop when he died.

Though his passing was a painful point in American history, his words continue to live on. A radical and peacemaker, a preacher and a father, an advocate for the poor and a criticizer of the indifferent, King's life and teachings were just as complex as he was.      

To remember his legacy, we have 50 of his quotes that offer insight into his beliefs about race, class, and humanity itself.  

1. "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."  

2. "Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. ... I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. ... This is the interrelated structure of reality."

3. "I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years."    

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4. "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."  

5. "He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love."

6. "A lie cannot live."

7. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."  

8. "A riot is the language of the unheard."

9. "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

10. "Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness."

11. "Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another."

12. "Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?"

13.  "We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifices. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor — both black and white, both here and abroad."  

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14. "If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving."

15. "The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to live intensively and to think critically. ... Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education."  

16. "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it."

17. "First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice."

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18. "We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."

19. "The Negro has no room to make any substantial compromises because his store of advantages is too small. He must press unrelentingly for quality, integrated education or his whole drive for freedom will be undermined by the absence of a most vital and indispensable element — learning."

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20. "We must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools."

21. "If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live."

22. "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

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23. "The more there are riots, the more repressive action will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society."

24. "No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

25. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

26. "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will."

27. "Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter."  

Photo by William Lovelace/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

28. "The time is always right to do what is right."

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

30. "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."

31. "Instead of making history, we are made by history."

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32. "Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."    

33. "I have decided to stick with love. ... Hate is too great a burden to bear."

34. "The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power."

35. "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."

36. "The ultimate tragedy ... was not the brutality of the bad people, but the silence of the good people."

37. "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

38. "We cannot walk alone."  

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39. "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

40. "There comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right."

41. "When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

42. "Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude."

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

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44. "No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they'd die for."

45. "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 in reality."  

46. "It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence."  

47. "The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows."

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48. "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

49. "We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."

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

Everyone can all use a little lift at the end of the week, and we've collected some of this week's best stories to provide just such a pick-me-up. Here are 10 things we want to share, just because they made us so darn happy.

1. Introducing Lila, the U.S. Capitol Police's first emotional support dog.

After the traumatic experiences of January 6th, Capitol Police officers could definitely use some extra support. Lila, a two-year-old black lab, will now serve as the department's first full-time emotional support dog. Look at that sweet face!

2. Speaking of the Capitol, take a look at this week's gorgeous solar eclipse behind the dome.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared the stunning "ring of fire" image on Twitter. Always a treat when nature gives us a great show.


3. Colorado sees its first wild wolf pups in six decades.

In the 1940s, the gray wolf was eradicated in Colorado by trappers and hunters, with the support of the federal government. Whoops. This week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced the first evidence of wild wolf breeding in the state, a sign of hope for the endangered species. Read more about the discovery here.

Photo by M L on Unsplash


4. 30-year-old singer with terminal cancer amazed and inspired with her performance on America's Got Talent.

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Everyone can all use a little lift at the end of the week, and we've collected some of this week's best stories to provide just such a pick-me-up. Here are 10 things we want to share, just because they made us so darn happy.

1. Introducing Lila, the U.S. Capitol Police's first emotional support dog.

After the traumatic experiences of January 6th, Capitol Police officers could definitely use some extra support. Lila, a two-year-old black lab, will now serve as the department's first full-time emotional support dog. Look at that sweet face!

2. Speaking of the Capitol, take a look at this week's gorgeous solar eclipse behind the dome.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared the stunning "ring of fire" image on Twitter. Always a treat when nature gives us a great show.


3. Colorado sees its first wild wolf pups in six decades.

In the 1940s, the gray wolf was eradicated in Colorado by trappers and hunters, with the support of the federal government. Whoops. This week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced the first evidence of wild wolf breeding in the state, a sign of hope for the endangered species. Read more about the discovery here.

Photo by M L on Unsplash


4. 30-year-old singer with terminal cancer amazed and inspired with her performance on America's Got Talent.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."