Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2020: 6 Quotes to Honor Civil Rights Activist

In celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, it's always a good idea to read some of his words that continue to inspire generations of people decades after his death.

Monday marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday to honor his birth, although it rarely falls on his actual birthday because of the Uniform Holiday Act. Instead, the official day reserved for paying tribute to his life is the third Monday in January.

Getting King's birthday honored on a national scale took more than three decades of advocacy, according to the National Constitution Center. In 1983, Congress passed a bill making it a federal holiday, and it became official after then-President Ronald Reagan signed it.

It was first celebrated in 1986, and it wasn't until 2000 that all 50 states adopted it, according to the National Constitution Center. Today, some cities will hold parades or events to teach about King's legacy and some people capitalize on the day off from work or school to serve their communities.

martin luther king jr quotes
Martin Luther King Jr. speaks before crowd of 25,000 Selma oo Montgomery, Alabama civil rights marchers, in front of Montgomery, Alabama, state capitol. Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty

Here are a few quotes to memorialize King's fight for equality:

"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. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others." —Strength to Love

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." —Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

"For we've come to see the power of nonviolence. We've come to see that this method is not a weak method, for it's the strong man who can stand up amid opposition, who can stand up amid violence being inflicted upon him and not retaliate with violence." —address at the Freedom Rally in Cobo Hall, Detroit

"If we were incarcerated behind the iron curtains of a Communistic nation, we couldn't do this. If we were dropped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime, we couldn't do this. But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right." —address at MIA Mass Meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama

"Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." —address at the 34th Annual Convention of the National Bar Association

"Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." —"I've Been to the Mountaintop," address delivered at Bishop Charles Mason Temple