Martin Luther King Quotes

Michael E. Kirkpatrick ·

Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., I wanted to take a moment to look at two quotes attributed to him:

Love and Hate

“…I have decided to stick with love…hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Source: King, Martin Luther, Jr. 1967. “Where Do We Go From Here?” Annual Report Delivered at the 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, August 16, Atlanta, GA. Full Speech.

Helping Others

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

The origin of this quote has been hard to track down and it’s not clear that it’s directly from Dr. King. The best lead I have is from Quote Investigator. They attribute the quote to a sermon entitled “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life”, a copy of which is included in the book Strength to Love, published in 1963. I have been unable to verify the source. The book is unavailable for search in Google Books and I have not obtained a physical copy.

Full citation from Quote Investigator: 1963, Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon: Three Dimensions of a Complete Life, Start Page 67, Quote Page 72, Published by Harper & Row, New York.

Despite this source, a copy of “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” that Dr. King gave on December 11, 1960 does not contain that quote, nor does a version of the same sermon that he gave on April 9, 1967. It’s entirely possible that the copy of the sermon documented in the book “Strength to Love” contains the quote. Dr. King did adapt his sermon and gave slightly different versions of it over time.