As the United States remembered the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. on January 20, former President Barack Obama honored the civil rights leader by sharing a letter penned by the icon in 1963. Obama noted how the letter—written by King while in detention at an Alabama jail for leading a march of black protesters without a permit and urging a boycott of businesses owned by white people—is relevant even today. "Every so often, I re-read Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. While some of the injustices may have changed, his poetic brilliance, moral clarity, and tests of conscience still reverberate today," the 58-year-old tweeted.
Taking a cue from the former President, here are 20 of King's most famous quotes that are just as relevant today as they were back then:
1. "The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold."
2. "We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right."
3. "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
4. "On some positions cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right."
5. "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
6. "If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live."
7. "Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity."
8. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
9. "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."
10. "Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers."
11. "In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."
12. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
13. "I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future."
14. "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."
15. "What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."
16. "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."
17. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
18. "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."
19. "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
20. "The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows."